Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Summer Reading–June, July, and August 2014

The reading list is back, with an all-new, supersized installment! Thirteen books! Thirteen authors! 4,359 or so pages! One thing that I didn’t finish last month! (Which is it? Wait and see!) Exclamation points!  GOD HELP ME, I CAN’T STOP! Please pretend to be excited and/or delighted at your leisure! Let’s do this thing:

Reading List - June, July, August 2014

One Night in Sixes – Arianne “Tex” Thompson – Solaris, 2014. 464pp.

Degrees of Freedom – Simon Morden – Orbit, 2011. 384pp.

Virtual Light – William Gibson – Bantam Spectra, 1994. 368pp.

The Third Man – Graham Green – Penguin, 1999. 160pp.

In Cold Blood – Truman Capote – Vintage, 1994. 343pp.

The Way of the Black Beast – Stuart Jaffe – Self published, 2011. 310pp.

The Kick-Ass Writer – Chuck Wendig – Writer’s Digest Books, 2013. 282pp.

Skin Game – Jim Butcher – Roc, 2014. 416pp.

Half a King – Joe Abercrombie – Del Rey, 2014. 352pp.

California – Edan Lepucki – Little Brown, 2014. 400pp.

Cibola Burn – James S.A. Corey – Orbit, 2014. 592pp.

The Walking Dead, Vol. 21: All Out War, Part 2 – Robert Kirkman & Charlie Adlard – Image Comics, 2014. 136pp.

Black Science, Vol. 1:  How to Fall Forever – Rick Remender & Matteo Scalera – Image Comics, 2014. 152pp.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Lazy-Ass Writer! Get Back to Work!



I've been very busy with the starting (and subsequent making-sure-of-the-keeping) of a new full time job these past couple of months. It's exciting stuff if you're me--because it means that you/I don't have to starve for your/my art--but it doesn't exactly make for thrilling web content. I'm very ready to come back to this project, though. I'm ready to get this whole thing done in as spectacular and engaging way possible. And I'm also going to be doing some video. Which is fun, I guess? First one is above. Check it out! I'll be back with more stuff over the next couple of days as I ease back into this thing.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Late-Night Stealth Post

I’ve been absent lately. Been trying to put a lot of focus on finding paying work again so that I can, you know, not starve and stuff? It’s boring and not writing related so I don’t want to talk about it, which I will hope that you can understand. If you don’t then, uh, tough? I guess? Sorry if that seems mean?

But, yeah. I’ve been missing writing, so writing I shall have. Little by little, the process of finishing this novel has begun again.

Today’s word count is 607. Which isn’t much, but it ain’t a bad start.

I’m going to sleep now.

 

-Sean

Friday, 13 June 2014

May Reading List–Readin’ and Junk

Reading List - May 2014This post took a lot longer to get around to than usual guys, and I know that this week has been quiet…It’s all been a little crazy on my end. We’ll see what I can’t get up and posted next week to make up for it.

  • In Cold Blood – Truman Capote – Vintage, 2012 (originally Random House, 1966). 343p.
  • I shouldn’t need to comment on Capote’s True-Crime masterpiece because, honestly, there’s not a single damn thing that I could say that hasn’t. Spare and beautiful and tragic, I try to revisit In Cold Blood every few years. Like Neuromancer and The Big Sleep, this is one of the books that made me.

  • Empire State – Adam Christopher – Angry Robot, 2011. 448p.
  • Adam Christopher’s debut novel is pretty dang cool. It’s got a lot of big ideas that get thrown around—almost to the point of seeming overstuffed—but there’s a confidence to the writing that really makes you want to buy into everything that this guy is selling. I’ll definitely check out another of his in the future.

  • East of West, Volume 1: The Promise – Jonathan Hickman & Nick Dragotta – Image Comics, 2013. 96p.
  • It’s a gigantic, beautifully illustrated alternate history sci-fi western where everyone is desperate to kick off the Biblical apocalypse except Death. Instead, he’s on an epic journey of revenge with a pair of shape-shifting American Indian star-crossed lovers and a freakishly tall, headless robot horse that shoots lasers out of the hole where it’s neck should be. Can I get a hell yeah?

  • East of West, Volume 2: We Are All One – Jonathan Hickman & Nick Dragotta – Image Comics, 2014. 144p.
  • More of the same, if by “the same” you mean that everything is on fire and kicks ass all of the time.

    Okay, so it was a light reading month. What with the traveling and all, I didn’t even get In Cold Blood finished. June will probably be a little more interesting, as I try to get some other things under my belt before digging into the summer proper. Then? Then it’s paperback season.

     

    -Sean

    Tuesday, 10 June 2014

    Podcast Guest-Spot Extravachautauqua

    The first episode of my guest spot on the podcast Season Pass is now live HERE. Along with regular hosts Michael Keene and Michael Smallwood, I’m covering the entire nine episode run of Chris Carter’s failed 1999 cyberpunk/dystopian drama Harsh Realm. You should definitely listen to it if you like television, thinking too much about television, and talking too much about television!

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    Season Pass is a recently formed podcast that offers jokes and in-depth commentary on failed television shows that either didn’t make it past their pilot, or their first season. It’s good stuff, if you’re into that sort of thing.

     

    -Sean

    Saturday, 7 June 2014

    Home Again, Home Again, You Know the Rest…

    Finally back in the office. The trip took longer than I had originally planned, but it was a good time and pretty productive. I’m looking forward to getting back to things, and you can expect regular posting to resume on Monday with May’s Reading List.

    Also, If you’re just coming to this site from finding a promo card at ConCarolinas, GeekOut, or any of the other places that I’ve left them in the last couple of weeks: Welcome! I’ll try to put together a little statement of intent for you all some time in the next few days.

    Until then, I’ll leave you with a photo that I took. I’m going to sleep now.

     

    -Sean

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    Friday, 30 May 2014

    Updatin’

    First day of ConCarolinas is over. I’m exhausted, so I’m going to not say anything else and just go to bed.

    Also: My friend William Hill has just put the second book of his serialized cyberpunk novel out. Click anywhere on this awkwardly worded, written-by-a-tired-person sentence to find links to all of the places that it is available. Then buy it, if that’s your thing.

     

    -Sean

    Monday, 26 May 2014

    Taking the Day Off

    It’s Memorial Day, and if most everyone else gets to take the day off then so do I. What? I don’t need to explain myself to you!

    This also marks the start of my trip to ConCarolinas. I’ll probably post every once in a while while I’m on the road, but it’s not going to be your regularly scheduled what-have-you. We’ll get back to that next week.

    Okay, that’s it. Happy Memorial Day, everyone!

     

    -Sean

    Saturday, 24 May 2014

    Andy Bobrow Says Everyone is Terrible

    It’s a busy weekend for me, getting ready to go out of town next week. So, rather than come up with something on my own, I thought I would share a piece that Community writer Andy Bobrow posted on medium.com a little while back. The crux of it is that every writer has it in them to write something shitty all of the time, and it’s only through constant refinement of our work that we make it worth reading. This is something that I believe in myself (and is a huge part of why I don’t feel worse than I do about how long I’ve been working on this book), but it’s nice to see someone else say it once in a while. Especially when you respect their work.

    The article itself is more comedy than anything else, but it also links to two different versions of the script for Community’s Season Two Episode, Mixology Certification. One is his first draft for the episode, and the other is a much later draft that is almost identical to what ended up on the screen. Mixology Certification also happens to be my favorite episode of the show, so that’s a plus.

    You can find the article here, if you're interested.

     

    -Sean

    Thursday, 22 May 2014

    Fresh Promotional Products!

    I got a package yesterday afternoon, and it turned out to be the promotional postcards that I ordered for the website/novel. And they look great! The blurb on the back feels a little anemic since I expanded it for the site rewrite but it still has a pulpy feel that I'm happy with, and the placeholder cover has the new title and the colors look great. It really pops, and the QR code on the back even works!

    I’ll be leaving these around at various places while I’m traveling next week, and handing them out at ConCarolinas. Hopefully, they’ll drum up a little extra site traffic and get people excited for a novel that will be published…Someday…

    Some pictures, for your enjoyment:

    Postcard FrontPostcard Back

    Wednesday, 21 May 2014

    Title Shift

    I’m going to let you in on a little secret: The name that I’ve been using for the book? Yeah, A Body Up the Well? Well, I totally HATE IT. It’s a terrible title for dumb people and I’m stupid for coming up with it.

    Which…Well, it’s not so strange an attitude for me. I come to titles early in my work, and I get really attached and find ways to work them into the story. Then I figure out that they’re not any good, because they were my absolute first impulse and your first impulse is rarely any good when you’re writing. The only thing to do is just roll with it and then change it when the time comes.

    So that’s what I did. A couple of months ago. Probably should have mentioned it before now.

    Eh…

    Anyway, the new title of the novel is The Long Lunar Night. Which is a much better title, and the end result of a process of sitting down, listing potential titles, and then writing comments on them where I tell myself how shit they are/I am. It’s a fairly simple thing. Took about an hour and a half. The page that I did it on in my production notebook is below:

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    -Sean

    Tuesday, 20 May 2014

    State of the Novel: 10K

    As of the small hours of this morning, the current build of the novel (v.0.6.11) has hit ten-thousand words. I seem to be speeding up more and more on this project, which is great and I hope I can keep that up.

    It’s also worth noting that I’ve circled back around to the early chapters that I skipped and seem to be getting through them okay now. With a little luck, I’ll be able to work through this section and then power through to the ending with a complete manuscript.

     

    -Sean

    Monday, 19 May 2014

    There’ll Be Some Changes Made

    You may notice that the site header image has changed. This is the first tweak to the site that I’ll be making over the next couple of days, so keep an eye out for the rest of those.

    The art comes from an old Soviet Union space exploration stamp that has slipped into the public domain. It also fits in with the placeholder cover that I designed for the promotional postcards, in an effort to tie things together visually. I’ll be talking more about those when they arrive in a couple of days.

    Are you excited, internet? I’m excited.

     

    -Sean

    A Ballad of Wayward Spectres, Day 2

    So, hey guys. Let's talk...You remember back on the January Reading List, when I talked about the first volume of my friend William Hill's serialized cyberpunk novel, A Ballad of Wayward Spectres? I said something about how it had a great concept and it was worth reading? Weeeeeell, as it turns out, he's releasing the second entry later this month (the 27th) and it is also worth reading! Funny how things work out like that when talented people are involved.

    Anyway...He also has a trailer for this one, and it's pretty neat. It pretty accurately captures the feel of the tech in his dystopian setting, and helps to set up what's to come in the series. Check it out below, and then, if you're interested, you can find Mr. Hill on facebook and twitter, on his website, or on Amazon.

    Sunday, 18 May 2014

    Catch-Up: Your April Reading List and You

    April Reading List - 2014

    • Theories of Flight – Simon Morden – Orbit, 368 Pages, 2011.

    I read the first of Morden’s Metrozone novels last fall, and found it to be an effortless and thoroughly enjoyable action-cyberpunk tale. This, the second entry in the series, retains much of the sense of fun and momentum—rushing wildly towards a running action sequence that makes up most of the book’s back half—but it does feel an awful lot like a bridge story…Taking the various characters and MacGuffins from the first novel and shuffling them around the board to make way for (what was, at the time) the closing entry in a trilogy. That can be a difficult bullet to dodge, though, and it doesn’t take away from the good time that I had with this.

    • The High Window – Raymond Chandler – Vintage Crime, 272 Pages, Original: 1942, Reprint: 1988.

    Read this one to sort of get myself back into the hardboiled mindset after spending so much time away from the novel. I’m always amazed by Chandler: The depth of his observations, the simple economy of his descriptions. I could read and reread this novels again and again and still find something new to love about them. The High Window, in particular, is the third in the series and is the entry that really cements Marlowe as a kind of self-righteous sad-sack who isn’t as clever as he thinks he is. He’s never quite ahead of the game in this novel, not until the very end, and nobody is ever really interested in buying what he’s selling.

    • The Wrong Quarry – Max Allan Collins – Hard Case Crime, 256 Pages, 2014.

    I’m a big fan of Max Allan Collins’s The Road to Perdition. It’s the kind of slow-burn Mafia story that knows to break up its heavier character work with bursts of violence only occasionally. This…This isn’t that. The, apparently long-running, Quarry series is pure, double-fisted pulp storytelling delivered with a knowing sneer. It’s a lark. A bit of sex and violence and sarcasm, and I really had a pretty good time with it.

    • The Voyage of the Space Beagle – A.E. Van Vogt – Collier, 244 Pages, Original: 1950, Reprint: 1992.

    The novel that ultimately, kind of, sort of inspired the film Alien. The different chunks of this story were originally published independently, and then stitched together into a larger narrative later. It isn’t always the most successful merging, and the seams show badly in places, but the individual stories are fascinating in their own right. With its episodic nature and focus on action brought about via science and exploration, it plays more like classic Star Trek than anything else. It’s a little more ruthless than Roddenberry’s vision of the future, though; less optimistic and more willing to acknowledge the petty rivalries of and aggressive responses that sit at the heart of most large-scale human interactions. The ending is surprisingly dark as well, with the scientist hero edging further and further into a tyrannical leadership over the Space Beagle’s crew and the mentality that the ends justify the means. It hasn’t aged quite as well as some classic science fiction, but it’s very much worth reading for those interested in the history of the genre.

    • One Summer: America, 1927 – Bill Bryson – Doubleday, 528 Pages, 2013.

    I’ve always said that Bill Bryson can stuff more fascinating facts and anecdotes into a single page than most non-fiction authors can work into an entire book. One Summer doesn’t change that opinion. Much like his previous work, At Home, Bryson uses the rough framework of exploring a single eventful summer in American history to bounce back into the events that laid the groundwork for these goings on…And forward into their repercussions as they resonate through the “American Century.”

    Saturday, 17 May 2014

    March Reading List

    March Reading List

    • The Darwin Elevator – Jason M. Hough – Del Rey, 496 Pages, 2013.

    A strong debut centered around an intriguing sort of apocalypse. Not sure how it’ll play out over a series, but I’m also willing to give it a shot.

    • Star Wars: Empire & Rebellion: Honor Among Thieves – James S.A. Corey – Del Rey, 288 Pages, 2014.

    Even if this weren’t one of the best Star Wars books in ages (and I know my Star Wars books), this would be noteworthy for having the Corey name on it and for the exceptional quality of its acronym: S.W.E.A.R.H.A.T.

    • The Shining Girls – Lauren Beukes – Mulholland, 384 Pages, 2013.

    I’m not going to lie. March was a great reading month for me, and it was mostly because of The Shining Girls. Beukes started strong as a writer, and has consistently gotten better with each novel. I’m absolutely ashamed of myself for letting this sit on my shelf unread for a year.

    • The Martian – Andy Weir – Crown, 384 Pages, 2014.

    Started the month by finishing off the last fifty pages of Weir’s debut, and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a tense and informative survival story, and the science is portrayed cleanly and concisely.

    • B.P.R.D.: 1948 – Mike Mignola & John Arcudi – Dark Horse, 144 Pages, 2013.

    An interesting story, though not exactly the one described on the tin. I like that these digressions into the Bureau’s past are starting to come together into a more cohesive narrative, but I’m beginning to wonder how they might come to tie in to what’s going on in the series’ main story. Also, they stopped putting volume numbers on these, and I don’t know where to keep them on the shelf…Which is more frustrating for me than seems reasonable.

    • Saga, Volume 3 – Brian K. Vaughn & Fiona Staples – Image, 144 Pages, 2014.

    Saga! It’s really great. It has always been really great, and it continues to be really great now! You should read it. Everyone should read it. All of the time.

    • The Walking Dead: All Out War, Part One – Robert Kirkman & Charlie Adlard – Image, 136 Pages, 2014.

    Kind of disappointed that they’ve broken the finale for this arc into two pieces. I suppose it does need it, and there are some excellent set-pieces throughout this volume, but I’m ready for this particular story to be over…The longer that it goes on, the more that I think this series could use a departure from it’s status quo.

    Friday, 16 May 2014

    Catch-Up Season

    This month I’ve had, internet. Oi. This month…

    No. Not even this month! This span of time between now and when I last posted here! I don’t even know how long that is anymore. More than a month? Less? I could check. I have checked. I actually know the answer. But I like this flailing that I’m doing, so I’m going to continue speaking in weird generalizations.

    Whatever, though. It’s time to catch up. It’s time to knuckle down and rededicate myself (not just to the novel, I’ve been working on that but haven’t been posting) to actually posting things on this site and giving a shit about it. So, I’m doing that. Over the next week, I’m going to be making some announcements, catching up on some posting, making changes to the site, and generally just getting myself prepared to dive into this thing again.

    Of course, then I’m going on the road for a week and hitting a convention so my output will probably bottom out again…But maybe not. Also, I ordered some postcards advertising the book and the site that I’ll be leaving places that I visit/at the con’. I’m excited to show those off when they arrive.

    So, until tomorrow then, internet. Good night.

     

    -Sean

    Friday, 11 April 2014

    The Opposition Theory

    Eleven days! Eleven. Days. Eleven days since I last posted. This, of course, proves my point about unemployment and the loss of perspective/sense of time/whatever else I was talking about last week. Or it just proves that I’m super lazy, make up excuses all of the time, and am not to be trusted.

    I’ll leave it up to you to decide which one it is. Because I promised interactivity on this website, and, by god, I MEAN TO DELIVER.

    But that’s not what I came here to talk about. I came here to talk about the other thing that I wrote on last week and why I’ve had such a hard time writing lately. Last week, I focused on the idea that I had made this too much like work and that I wasn’t having any fun with the novel anymore. I’ve been giving this some more thought though, and I think that there are some other factors as well.

    I’ve been working on this book for a while now. The actual writing started last March, so it’s been just over a year. In the grand scheme of Unpublished People Writing Novels, that’s not a huge deal. It’s a short span. And if we’re talking about Published People With Agents And Publishers And Contracts, then it’s definitely on the long side. It’s just somewhere in the middle, and—with a little luck—will not go on much longer.

    The thing that makes this frustrating is the lack of forward progress. I keep restarting. Going back. Changing things. Writing the same scenes over and over again in slightly different ways. It’s the kind of stuff you usually only do at the end, when you’re editing. It makes me a little crazy; just endlessly revisiting the early scenes in the morgue and Warren Cole’s apartment.

    I realized the other day that this is where I stopped dead in the current build. I worked through the new opening with ease back in January, and then lost all interest as soon as my characters arrived at the locked apartment door in Northwest Habitation 4. I just know those scenes so well at this point. I know what needs to go into them and how to get them on the page, but the idea of writing them again just hurts. I hate that feeling.

    So I skipped ahead.

    I just blew right by it. I’ve got all of the details and pertinent character bits in the outline, so there’s little chance of missing something (though I still felt a little bad about doing it for just this reason). And it worked. I did three new chapters in the past week and three-thousand words, and I still feel like I’m picking up speed. I’ve also been focusing on just getting the material out, having fun with it, and saving the worrying/getting it right for the edit.

    Which means, I guess, that both of these concepts have been working for me. Sure, I’m about to butt up against some stuff that I’ve already written again, but we’ll burn that bridge when we get to it. For now, I’ve got more writing to do.

     

    -Sean

    Monday, 31 March 2014

    A Month

    God. Wow. It’s been a month since I last posted. Where does the time go?

    When you’re unemployed, time gets…I don’t know…Funny. You’re pulled in a lot of different directions at once by all of these should-be-dones. All of these things that you never had time for before. Personal obligations that were put off. Socializing, exercise, writing, trying to find that job that’s actually meaningful to you. It becomes chaotic and unfocused. You get less done than you did when you were working.

    So you pull back. You compress. Simplify. Dedicate yourself to lists and structure and, in the process, overcompensate. Getting your appointed tasks done in a given day becomes so important. The stuff that you’re doing becomes work. It becomes your job. And everything else starts to slip. You’ve gone too far in the other direction.

    Thankfully, I’ve never been one of those people who stops showering or getting up in the morning when I feel bad or don’t have anywhere to be. The furthest I get down that road is going a few days between shaves. Or maybe I don’t floss every once in a while.

    That’s neither here nor there, though, because the point is that in the past month I’ve kind of let this novel go. I brush it off and fiddle with it every once in a while, but for the most part I focus on trying to land job interviews or coming up with short stories that I can shop around. I neglect the job that I have—the job that I have given myself—because I need something more immediate and paycheck-inclusive in my life right now, and because I get to a point in my day where I can choose between writing and decompressing and I always go with decompressing because everything else in my life is all about stress and uncertainty right now.

    Which sucks. It’s a shitty thing to deal with because it comes down to doing more work or doing something that I like and makes me feel good for a little while. And I do like writing, and it does make me feel good, but it also feels like work right now and I just want to avoid an ulcer.

    Maybe that’s on me, though. Maybe it’s because of the attitude that I’ve developed towards writing. When the semester ended last December I joked that I was becoming a full time writer again for a month, and that felt good. And when it became clear that the college wasn’t going to call me in for contract renewal back in January I told myself more or less the same thing. The joke was gone, though.

    After that, I stopped writing and started working. When asked what I was going to do on a given day, I would say, “Oh, I’m going to work on the book.” When I cleaned up the lunch dishes, I would look at the dog and say, “Okay. Back to work.” Troubleshooting plot and character problems used to be “playing,” but now it’s “fixing” or “cleaning.” Everything about my attitude towards my craft has become more clinical and formal, and, ultimately, less rewarding.

    So. I don’t know. I guess I’ve got to make this less of a chore again. I’m not going to write about my commitment to getting this damn thing done again. I’ve spilled way to many words on that subject as it is. It’s getting done and that’s final. I’ve got to find a way to make it work, though.

    I’ve got to fall in love with what I do again.

    I don’t know.

    I’ll get back to you.

     

    -Sean

    Saturday, 1 March 2014

    Reading List: February, 2014

    DSCN5005

    Compiling now, for your reading pleasure, uh, well, my reading pleasure for the past month?

    • METAtropolis – edited by John Scalzi – This one is really interesting. A group of authors got together to create a short-fiction anthology centered on a shared original setting that was all about letting them explore new urban social systems. The individual pieces are all pretty great, but the depth and quality of the collaboration is what makes this one really worthwhile.
    • A Darkling Sea – James L. Cambias – Some really fascinating world-building in this one. It’s kind of an old-school first contact story that deals with the morality of making face-to-face contact with less advanced species versus policies of isolation and observation. All told, it’s the same basic territory that Star Trek covered with the Prime Directive, but way more interesting and in-depth.
    • The Martian – Andy Weir – I’ve still got about fifty pages of Andy Weir’s debut novel left, but it pretty well blew me away. The story of a NASA astronaut stranded on Mars when an accident forces his crew to evacuate the planet and leave him for dead. It’s got the intensity of Gravity, great pacing, and a great sense of humor. And the science, oh god, the science…Accurate, extensive, and cleanly expressed…It’s fantastic.
    • Doctor Sleep – Stephen King – Just finishing this one up this month. You can find my thoughts on it in last month’s Reading List.
    • Nowhere Men, Volume 1 – Eric Stephenson – A really fascinating opening to what could be a great weird-science series. The writing is tight, the art is top-notch, and there’s just enough experimentation in its story-telling and page layouts to keep it your mind on it completely.
    • The Unwritten, Volume 7: The Wound – Mike Carey – This book continues to be excellent, and my favorite ongoing series. You should all read it immediately.
    • The Unwritten, Volume 8: Orpheus in the Underworld – Mike Carey – Message Repeats: This book continues to be excellent, and my favorite ongoing series. You should all read it immediately.

     

    -Sean

    Friday, 28 February 2014

    Aaron Allston, 1960 - 2014

    I’ve never done any eulogizing here. Always seemed like there were other, better places for it. Words said by other, better people. The news that came down last night, though, announcing the death of sci-fi/fantasy author Aaron Allston hit me pretty hard.

    Aaron_allston_2005

    So, there’s a reason that I don’t write eulogies: I’ve never properly learned how. I tried to write one for Elmore Leonard for work last year and it came out horribly. Instead, I think I’ll just tell a story about the kind of person Aaron Allston was…

    There were a couple of little cons that I used to frequent when I lived back in North Carolina. Sometimes I would go as a simple attendee, others as a volunteer. On a couple of occasions I was lucky enough to go as a speaker. Aaron was a fairly regular sight around those parts, and very well liked. He was an incredibly kind man--wickedly funny and quick, and always ready to offer a bit of advice or guidance to new writers and old hands.

    My fondest memory of the man is one of my last. It was one of Aaron’s first convention appearances following his 2009 heart attack and the subsequent surgery, and I was manning a group table when he came up between panels (one of the great things about having Aaron at cons was that he would often just wander the floor and browse around like a regular attendee) and asked if he could sit in one of our free chairs. We’d run into one another often enough that he seemed to recognize me and, once he got settled, I introduced myself, told him how much I enjoyed his work and listening to him talk about writing in his panels, and then said how glad that I was that he was still with us. By way of thanks, he smiled and made the kind of groan-inducing pun that he was famous for.

    We got to talking after that; going back and forth about craft and process and Star Wars (he remains one of my long-standing favorite contributors to the Star Wars Expanded Universe) and all of the other topics that you run through when you get a pair of big writing nerds together. Eventually, Aaron had another panel that he needed to be at. A volunteer came to bundle him off to the ballroom, and that was it. We ran into one another a couple of times after that, before I moved to this wretched land that has never heard of a fan convention, and we never had much of a chance to talk again but he always remembered my name and he always had a grin and a kind word for me. That’s just the kind of person that he was. One of the very best.

    In a perfect world, I’d be able to have that conversation with him again following another round of surgeries. I wish that I could, and I’m sure that there are plenty of other folks who wish the same. My thoughts are with Aaron and his loved ones today.

     


    This post was edited on the morning of 03/01/2014 for purposes of clarity and intent.

    Thursday, 20 February 2014

    Reading List - January

    Because being an active reader is an important part of being an active writer, I’m going to start profiling the stuff that I’ve been reading on a month-to-month basis. Here’s January:

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  • Easy Go – Michael Crichton – Part of Hard Case Crime’s posthumous reissue of the early pulp novels that Crichton released under the name John Lange. This is the first of them that I’ve read, and it’s kind of remarkable how clearly this is still Crichton’s work…Much less refined technically, but with a lot of the clear and easy historical/scientific exposition that defined much of the man’s writing.
  • Zoe’s Tale – John Scalzi – Rounding out my collection of Scalzi’s TOR releases. It’s the same story as The Last Colony but told from a different POV, and it manages to fill in some of that other novel’s gaps while still feeling fresh and entertaining. Pulling this sort of Rashomon move across multiple novels is something that I’ve considered doing in the past, so it’s also nice to see that it can work out well.
  • A Ballad of Wayward Specters, Day OneWilliam B. Hill – The first part of a serialized cyberpunk novel written and independently released by an old friend from college. I’m still waiting to see where this story goes, but, so far, it’s an interesting take on the future of identity theft.
  • Of Dice and Men – David M. Ewalt – A long profile of the history of Dungeons & Dragons that manages to be interesting and fun without becoming overly sentimental or compromising its facts. It also had the benefit of getting me fired up to play tabletop games again, and has me working on a custom system of rules on the side.
  • Doctor Sleep – Stephen King – This one carried over into February, so you’ll probably see it on March 1st as well. Like Black House before it, Doctor Sleep is an interesting take on building a sequel to an early, classic King work. And, also like Black House, it’s not so much a direct sequel as a story about a man who is no longer the boy that he was the last time he had a traumatizing adventure.
  • Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. – Warren Ellis – One of my favorite comics series. Twelve straight issues of relentless riffing on superhero team books.
  • Lazarus, Volume One – Greg Rucka – Rucka jumps out of the gate on his new dystopian sci-fi series, and it’s already plenty intriguing. I’m very much looking forward to seeing where this goes.
  • Local – Brian Wood – Sad, exhilarating, lyrical, and beautifully drawn. In a weird way, reading this probably had a lot to do with my wanting and trying to move last month. Its portrayal of wanderlust and life experience is both tragic and inspiring. Wood has written a lot of excellent series over the years, but this is probably his most affecting.
  • Wednesday, 19 February 2014

    Adventures in Not Writing

    Hi there. It's been a while.

    So, this has been kind of a rough year so far. I won't go into too much detail, but the bottom line is that I didn't get any called in for any classes this semester so I'm basically unemployed. Add that to a car wreck, some good friends leaving the state suddenly, and a recently aborted attempt to do that myself—and I've really not been in a place where I want to write or work on things.

    Basically, I spend a lot of time looking for work and thinking about how much I hate looking for work. The rest of my time is pretty much divided between reading and drifting between side projects.

    It's difficult, trying to work through this kind of constant, low-level distress. You try to power through it, but, eventually, the way that you feel starts to color everything that you do. Nothing looks or feels quite right, but you don't know how to fix it because the problem isn't in the work, it's in you. You can't just stop feeling anxious and sad about things, so you slowly start to drift away from them. You decide that you can wait it out. That you can come back to your life later.

    That's kind of what I've been doing. Or, at least, that's the closest that I can come to articulating it right now. It's one of those things that just gets worse and worse until it starts to get better somehow.

    The good news is that I seem to be coming out of the slump lately. I revisited the current draft and the outline a few days ago, and I've started making a series of tweaks to them that resolve a lot of the problems that I had with the third act of the Ver# 0.4.0 outline. I've also made the necessary changes to the current draft that will make it line up with those changes. I've also revisited the post-mortem that I promised for Dog Star Palace (Yes: I actually wrote it. And also yes: I ended up not posting it because I was sad and didn't want to be on the internet. That's just the kind of great month that January was.) and started making some changes to it that should make it a little more informative while also including some bits about how my mood influenced the work. I'm also starting to compile some guest articles.

    That's all coming along soon or soon-ish, so keep an eye out, okay? I'm ready to get some stuff done here, and I'd like for all of you to share in it with me.

     

    -Sean

    Thursday, 16 January 2014

    Short Fiction. Hot, Fresh…

    …And prepared with love for your immediate consumption. Again, this piece was written for entry in Chuck Wendig’s Short Fiction Challenge over at terribleminds. Do be so good as to read more below the cut:

    Sunday, 12 January 2014

    Short Fiction Inbound!

    So I wrote a piece of short fiction yesterday as part of one of author Chuck Wendig’s regular Flash Fiction Challenges over at terribleminds. The kind of thing where you roll a couple of d20s (and you know you’ve got some of those lying around on account of all of the D&D you played in college) to generate a title and you just run with it. It’s a fun little exercise—get yourself going on a lark that has a pretty definite expiration date, wrap it up in a couple of hours or a day, and use the buzz of finishing something to power you through other projects for a while.

    So, I’ve got this rough pile of words that I threw together and now I’m going to run a couple of editing passes on them and see if I can’t tease some shine out of them. I think it’s fun (if not a little bit of a downer for the characters) and it might have a fair amount of potential. I’ll also be posting the final draft here some time in the next couple of days, so you can look forward to that if it’s your thing.

     

    -Sean

    Wednesday, 1 January 2014

    Happy New Yearversary!

    Almost didn’t get to make this post today. Been checking the internet every time I took a break from assembling/moving furniture, and it has just now gone properly live…So here I am.

    Anyway, it’s the start of a brand new year, which makes this the first anniversary of Hey, Internet! And that is exciting because it means that I’ve stuck with this for a year and am both still working on the project and not dead, but it’s also a little depressing because I look at where I am on the project and at the 365 previous days of work (or not work, depending on the day), and I think that I am not where I should be.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not upset or anything…

    Well. No. I am a little upset. But at myself. Not at the book, or the website, or at you, Internet. I always knew that this project was going to take longer than a year, but I was pretty certain that I would be further along than I am now when I reached that anniversary milestone. It’s a little disappointing. Or maybe bittersweet. Something like that. I don’t know. I’m trying not to make this super depressing, because it really shouldn’t be. There have been setbacks but I have persevered, and now there is progress.

    That’s good, right?

    So. Now that I’m back from family holiday adventures and am settling in to really working on this fulltime again, where are we?

    Well, I’ve got a completed outline for one thing. The first proper outline that this novel has ever had. It covers thirty-five chapters, working the narrative from beginning to end, and I’ve already compiled location and character lists from it. I’ve also put together a relationship and influence map for all of the characters and organizations, which is a helpful visual aid and has the added benefit of looking like the conspiracy wall of a television serial killer.

    I have a couple of issues with this outline, so I may tweak it some in the next day or two. They mostly concern the ending, though, which feels kind of wonky. The fixes that I have in mind won’t really influence a lot of the early chapters, so I can finally get down to the business of writing this thing again. Which is definitely a good thing.

    Yes. I think 2014 might turn out to be a pretty good year, all told. We’ll just have to wait and see…

     

    -Sean