Monday, July 6, 2015

Just for grins: CONvergence flash fiction

A good time was had by all at CONvergence this weekend.

I'm just gonna leave this right here.

This was my second year going, and I don't expect it will be my last. And while I fully expected to enjoy catching up with old friends, meeting new ones, and participating in some fantastic programming, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed a Saturday evening panel called "Ready, Set, Flash!"

In this, Tor.com editor Lee Harris challenged C. Robert Cargill, Paul Cornell, Kelly McCullough, Melissa Olson, and myself to write stories in five-minute sprints while he entertained the audience and taunted us as we hunched over our sweaty, sweaty keyboards.

Kelly posted his contributions here, so I thought I'd share mine, too. All were written with the energy born of terror.

First theme: "Reanimation"
It came in the mail. A little package, something the neighbors hopefully wouldn’t have noticed. As if to spite me, the mailman had laid it proudly on top of my doormat.
I remembered searching for it, my hands sweating onto the keyboard as I clack-clack-clacked my queries into the search engine. I must have opened and closed the purchase page a dozen times, feeling someone watching over my shoulder. 
I popped the pill into my mouth and swallowed. I heard her in the next room. “Is it working yet?” 
And then I felt it. Something stirring. Reanimation.

I was kinda surprised that no one else went there...

Second theme: "Steampunk Romance"
It started as a rumbling. Something distant but growing nearer. The ground was shaking.  
A whistle split the air, high and hot. Puffs of air like heavy breaths scattered across the horizon.  
The movement became a deep moan of metal, gears nibbling across each other with tiny, sturdy teeth. Pistons roared, thrusting back and forth across axles and cogwork. 
The train rolled over the tracks and passed by.
Trains. Yeah. Those are steampunk, right?

Third theme: "The Little People"

The little people had never much cared for the term. “Little” connoted things like “diminuitive” and “lesser,” and as they all knew, they were none of those things.  
They was just as much to them as there was to anyone else, it was just concentrated. 
The lobbyists told them they were wasting their time. There was no controversy, nothing to change, so why spend the money anyway? 
But the lobbyists were lawyers, and so when they saw money on the table, they took it. They had that much in common with their clients. 
CNN viewers scratched their heads at the coverage and the sight of all of these green-clad men and women marching across the floor of the senate, stepping up on podiums so that their voices could be heard.  
At least it was something the Democrats and Republicans could agree on.  
And with that a slew of signatures, they founded the Green Party.

Lawyer jokes are always classy.

Fourth theme: "Uncle Sam's Day Off" + mandatory use of the word "cocaine"

Well, you know where this is headed.
Uncle Sam scratched an armpit and rolled out of bed and made his way to the bathroom. 
He looked at his bloodshot eyes, underlined with bags. Red and blue, indeed. 
But there was something… 
He leaned closer and dusted his beard. Was that… cocaine? Well, there’s the white. 
He pulled a rumpled tee shirt over his gut and stumbled into the living room. 
Iran was passed out on the couch. Britain was frying up some eggs. That guy knew how to hold his liquor. 
He looked at the clock and remembered it was his day off. Thank goodness. 
His phone was buzzing. It was China. Looked like China wanted a party.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

CONvergence, here we come!

This weekend, I'll be attending CONvergence in lovely Minneapolis. I went last year and had some of the most fun I've had at any convention, so I'm looking forward to going again.

If your 4th of July plans include CONvergence, here's where you can find me:
  • Thursday, 7-9 pm: "Gaming with Authors" at Source Comics and Games. Mike Underwood, Jamie Wyman, Tex Thompson, Craig Cormick, Anne Lyle, and I will be playing games and signing books. Come roll with us.

  • Friday, 2-3 pm: "Dealing with Difficult People in Publishing." Every profession has its share of difficult people. What personalities and behaviors are the most challenging to work with in publishing and how do you handle it? What can we do to avoid becoming those difficult people as writers, artists, editors? With Elizabeth Bear, Wesley Chu, Lee Harris, and Michael Damian Thomas.

  • Saturday, 2-3 pm: "Creating a Dystopian Society in Your Writing" in DoubleTree Atrium 7. How do you create a dystopian society that is believable and forwards your character development and plot? How do you add a twist to your society that makes it original without losing realism in the world of your story? With Christoforo Pasquarette, Naomi Kritzer, Wesley Chu, and Eric Staggs.
  • Saturday, 3:30-4:30 pm: "Art of the Plot Twist" in DoubleTree Atrium 7. How do you set up a plot twist? What is soylent green? Who is Keyser Soze? And what's in the box?!?!? Feat. Patrick Marsh, Jack Reher, Lana Rosario, and Wesley Chu.
  • Saturday, 5:00-6:00 pm: "Ready, Set, Flash!" in DoubleTree Atrium 4. In which nefarious trickster kind-hearted editor Lee Harris challenges five writers WHO WERE PROMISED BEER to instead write flash fiction in front of an audience. Without beer. We who are about to write salute you. My brothers (and sister) in arms: Paul Cornell, Kelly McCullough, Melissa Olson, and C. Robert Cargill.

  • Sunday, 9:30-10:30 am: "Becoming a Game Designer" in DoubleTree Atrium 7. A room full of professional game designers will talk to you about being a game designer. Yes, I know it's early Sunday morning. But this is a job, you know--it's not all fun and games. Okay, maybe it's both. My fellow morning people: Shanti Pothapragada, Bill Bodden, Ian Price, and Jerry Belich.
  • Sunday, 12:30-1:30 pm: Reading with Craig Cormick and Anne Lyle in 2201. Craig Cormick, author of The Shadow Master and The Floating City and Anne Lyle, author of The Alchemist of Souls and The Prince of Lies, will read from their latest books. I'll give the first-ever public reading from Cities and Thrones.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Comicpalooza this weekend!

Hey, Houston!

This weekend, I'm at Comicpalooza, and I'm doing several panels, a workshop, and a signing. If you're at the convention, here's where you can find me:

Friday, May 22
1-2pm: Writing Unforgettable Characters - 352A
4-5pm: Comics & SF as Modern Mythology - 381C

Saturday, May 23
2:30-5:30pm: No Holds Barred Critique Workshop - 352A

Sunday, May 24
11:30am-12:30pm: Good Habits of Good Writers - 350A
1-2pm: Should You Self-Publish Your Book? - 350A
3-3:50pm: Signing at the Barnes & Noble table - Row 2000
4-5pm: How to Get Your Fiction Noticed by an Editor - 350C

Friday, May 8, 2015

"No Holds Barred" Critique Workshop at Comicpalooza!

There are two salient tidbits here:
  • First, Comicpalooza is just two weeks away, so I'll see you there wait you haven't registered yet what are you doing go register now.
  • Second, there will be a critique workshop YES YOU HEARD THAT RIGHT. If you are a person who likes putting words on pages and want to get some professional feedback on those words from writers, editors, and publishers, then boy have I got a deal for you. Read on...

Author Shannon Winton, writer and critic Kevin Ranson, Jason Aydelotte of Grey Gecko Press, author Diana Dru Botsford, and yours truly (yes that's me) will critique up to 10 works of up to 2,000 words each in a three-hour workshop. We will be gentle.*

The workshop will be Saturday, May 23 from 2:30 - 5:30 pm. Send your submission to literature@comicpalooza.com by May 15. And really, why wait?


*So it IS called the "No Holds Barred Critique Workshop." We'll provide candid, straightforward critiques, but our goal is to help writers hone their craft.

¡Ahora en espaƱol!

For all you hispanohablantes out there, the wonderful folks of the VerdHugos Podcast invited me to chat with them about books, The Buried Life, and all things spec fic! They're one of the premier speculative fiction podcasts in Spain, so check us out here!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Comicpalooza Schedule!

We're less than a month away from Houston Comicpalooza! I'll be participating as an author guest this year, so here's where you can find me at the con:

Friday, May 22
1-2pm: Writing Unforgettable Characters - 352A
4-5pm: Comics & SF as Modern Mythology - 381C

Saturday, May 23
2:30-5:30pm: No Holds Barred Critique Workshop - 352A

Sunday, May 24
11:30am-12:30pm: Good Habits of Good Writers - 350A
1-2pm: Should You Self-Publish Your Book? - 350A
3-3:50pm: Signing at the Barnes & Noble table - Row 2000
4-5pm: How to Get Your Fiction Noticed by an Editor - 350C

See you there!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Blog Tour for The Buried Life!

It is now officially release week; The Buried Life will be among us this Tuesday! Now, I may be keeping mum around here, but several kind folks have been gracious enough to allow me to share Recoletta, Jane, Malone, Arnault, and more from The Buried Life at their online abodes.

Also, brisket.

More to follow, but here's where you can keep up:

February 26: Giveaway of The Buried Life @ Just a Guy That Likes To Read
February 27: Author Query Redux: On Delays and Surprises @ A Fantastical Librarian

Monday!
March 2: Eating Authors: The BBQ Road Trip @ Lawrence M. Schoen
March 2: 2015 Debut Author Challenge @ The Qwillery

Tuesday!
March 3: Memoirs of a Young Bureaucrat (An Excerpt) @ The Book Plank
March 3: Five Favorite Weird Metropolises @ Tor.com
March 3: Listmaking: My SuperpowerThe Skiffy and Fanty Show

Wednesday!
March 4: Book Bites: Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Casserole @ Fran Wilde
March 4: Wednesday Geek Woman @ geekfeminism.org

Thursday!
March 5: My Favorite Bit @ Mary Robinette Kowal
March 5: Five Things I Learned Writing The Buried Life @ Chuck Wendig's terribleminds
March 5: The Perfect Sidekick @ All Things UF

Friday!
March 6: The Big Idea @ John Scalzi's Whatever

Saturday!
March 7: 2pm Signing and Launch Party @ Mysterious Galaxy San Diego

March 8: Unlikely Influences, or What I Learned about Writing from Scuba Diving @ Kate Heartfield's blog

March 9: Talking 'Bout Book Launches @ The Kingdoms of Evil with Dan Bensen

March 11: InterviewThe Qwillery

March 12: Podcast "The Buried Life of Broken Souls" @ Dungeon Crawlers Radio

March 16: I Can't Believe It's Not Steampunk! @ The Tex Files with Tex Thompson

March 20: Podcast and Interview @ The Skiffy and Fanty Show

March 30: Gaslight Geeks @ Generations Geek