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Ditch Diggers #12.5 – The return of Hurley and Wendig 2, Electric Boogaloo

The other half of the drunken evening with Kameron and Chuck!

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Ditch Diggers #12 – The return of Hurley and Wendig

[NOTE- I’ve fixed the audio problems. If you didn’t like the split channels, please re-download this new file. –ML]

Author powerhouses Kameron Hurley and Chuck Wendig return to Ditch Diggers, this time answering questions from Twitter. We got a lot of questions, so the show ran long, and I cut it into TWO episodes, so you get MORE Hurley and Wendig next week! Whoa!

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ISBW #348 – Stop kicking your own ass // Jen Udden Interview

[NOTE- I’ve fixed the audio problems. If you didn’t like the split channels, please re-download this new file. –ML]

ISBW returns with an agent interview this time, and my plea to stop kicking your own ass. And by you I mean me.

Jen’s podcast, Shipping and Handling.

Obligatory Buy My Book! link: (affiliate)

Call Furiosa. I need help.

I love city building games. Resource management, man, I can play all day making sure that there’s enough power, food, gold, mana, whatever. Make my people happy, that’s my jam.

I also love Fallout. Mix the Stepford 1950’s optimism with a futuristic dystopia, throw in some giant moles and roaches, and you have got yourself a game.

So I got all excited when I saw that Bethesda has done an iOS game called Fallout Shelter where you are an overseer in charge of one of the vaults, and your job is to keep your people working and happy. Fallout and city building. Peanut butter and chocolate, man. We are THERE.

I’ve already brought down two vaults. One fell to a radroach infestation when I wasn’t looking, bodies EVERYWHERE, and the other one is struggling along, trying to make enough food but everyone is dying of radiation poisoning anyway. I’m trying to bring it back but wondering if abandonment isn’t the way to go.

Then I started a new vault. Vault 777. Vault 777 was going to be me learning from my past mistakes. I was set. I had a plan.

A bit of gameplay: the way you unlock new rooms to put in your vault is to increase the population. Sometimes new dwellers show up outside, and later in the game you can build a radio room to encourage other outsiders to come and move in, but until then you have to increase your population the old fashioned way. Not wanting to have my people die at the mandibles of roaches (do roaches have mandibles? I can’t remember…) while their skin is melting off from radiation, I decided to increase my population as fast as possible. I put the women in the living quarters with various men, and the bad pickup lines started flying. Sometimes they danced. (When they’re unhappy, they may still start a courtship dance, and it’s fascinating and terrible to watch. Very emo.) Sometimes magic happened, other times I had to try a new dude in the room.

Then I started feeling uncomfortable. The women come out of the rooms in yellow maternity sweaters and go back to their jobs, and and no one seemed to object to being a brood mare (at least they weren’t painting WE ARE NOT THINGS on the walls), and you can’t accidentally have children sleep with parents (the dialogue is, “it’s so nice to spend some time with my family,” and there is no dancing) but I realized…

I’m Immortan Joe.

pipboyThis? joe

Or this?

All right, I’m not REALLY Joe. I’m not keeping these woman as MY wives. And it was clear that if the romance magic wasn’t happening, the dwellers were content to just dance sluggishly until I gave up and put them back to work – and the women do have important jobs in medicine, water, food, and power to keep the vault running. They’re more important than their lady bits.

Not to mention I’m not a hideous dude with boils.

But still. It’s the future, the world has gone to radioactive shit, and I’m fixing it by making women pregnant. Paint me white and bring me my WarBoys. Valhalla is calling. WITNESS ME.

  • I really hope they fix the crash bugs.
  • Women can’t wear the mayor suit or the tunnel snakes jacket. Are you KIDDING me, Bethesda?


New book announcement: SIX WAKES coming from Orbit, fall 2016!

I’m absolutely thrilled to announce that I’ve sold my sci-fi thriller SIX WAKES to Orbit Books for release next fall! Read the official announcement here!

Elevator pitch: This is a clone murder mystery in space. Six clones are crewing a generational spaceship with their fellow clones’ consciousnesses sleeping in servers. Backup bodies are designed to wake when the current body dies. The books starts when our six characters wake up in their new bodies all at once in the middle of the carnage of their own murdered ex-selves, and none of them has any idea which of them is the killer.

I’m excited to be treading new ground with space thrillers, but I promise that the usual dark humor that comes with my books will not be missing. This book has been in the works for a while, and I can’t wait for you to read it!

Water Wings

Maybe it’s the age thing. Maybe it’s the approaching birthday. But I’m feeling a definite midlife crisis here, the feeling that my body is changing and slowing down and I feel like I have little to no control over it. Not to mention very little willpower.

I’m running more but it doesn’t feel like ENOUGH. You know?

So I told myself I would train for a triathlon*. Yeah. Me.

Why this is so amazingly funny ridiculous fucked up ambitious is

  1. I haven’t ridden a bike since the early 1990’s. Most of us didn’t have email when I last rode a bike.
    a. I don’t currently own a bike.
    b. Or a bike helmet.
  2. I hate swimming with my head in the water. It’s not a vanity, getting hair/makeup wet** thing. I think it’s because I had chronic ear infections as a kid when I would swim in my grandmother’s pool, so I equate swimming underwater with pain. (And yeah, I know I can wear earplugs. This is not a conscious fear; it’s an illogical aversion that I have to whip the lizard brain into realizing there’s nothing to fear here. Lizard brain doesn’t care about fucking ear plugs. Lizard brain says SHORTEST ROUTE TO NO PAINLAND IS NO HEAD IN WATER.)
  3. Running- well, I like running. So I’ve got that going for me…

I’ve got some friends giving me advice, and I have some books with some surprisingly good swim drills. I’m not even afraid of failing. I know I’m not going to leap in and suddenly start winning triathlons in the 40+ age range. I think I am afraid of just getting despondent and quitting. Some of what I’ve read said this is a mental game, it’s not just being in shape, it’s the training and the focus and the knowing you have a weak link in your chain and working on that harder instead of avoiding it like the lizard brain tells you to.

So me and my lizard brain. Gonna train for a triathlon. Step 1 is swimming lessons. Wish me luck.

I need a name for my lizard brain. Any suggestions? She’s stubborn and bigger than me. Tell me on twitter (@mightymur) cause I don’t do comments here.

* Sprint. Not an Iron Man. Are you crazy?
** “Sorry if I look like a beat-up hooker.” – Things you hear at your community pool. Well, mine, anyway. Hey, she was more charming than the guy with the white supremacy tattoos. HOWDY NEIGHBOR.

For the luvva gawd, stop reading reviews

[Side note- some of you may notice I’m blogging more. If you’re mostly an ISBW podcast listener, my language may surprise you. I have a clean podcast because I am all too aware of the value of having something you can listen to in your car when your kids are with you, but in my fiction and nonfiction writing I do enjoy the colorful metaphors and descriptions.]

If you are one of those people who enjoy reading about yourself, no matter what people say, then go ahead. Read the reviews as if someone isn’t talking about your work, and, like many reviewers do, make assumptions based on your personality as a direct result of what you write. You don’t even need to continue reading. Just go off and feel pleased about yourself and the confidence you’ve built as an adult. Well done!

OK, now for the 95% rest of the population – don’t do it. Seriously. Nothing good comes of reading reviews. You’re going to read them and if they like the whole thing but think the romance part is weak (unless you’re writing romance, which makes it a bigger deal) then you’re probably going to be like AUGH THEY HATED MY ROMANCE MY LIFE IS OVER.*

Some people may not “get” your writing. They don’t see what you’re trying to achieve, or your subtle phrasing and hooks went over their head. That’s a definite possibility. However, the moment you say that people don’t understand your work, you dive headfirst into Sensitive Artist pool and sound like a pretentious asshole. It’s also possible that they didn’t “get” it because you didn’t do a good job of presenting it. Horrors, I know.

Nobody understands me because I am so deep.

Online, there are two things you never want to ask anyone, because there is no good answer.

  1. Why did you unfollow me on [social network]?**
  2. How could you write such a bad review of my work, my baby, my livelihood?

Seriously, nothing good comes out of this. The weird thing about becoming a public persona — whether for what you do, what you create, or being famous for being famous — is that when one person tells you their opinion of their work, you can bet cash moneys that there are many others out there who aren’t speaking up who think the same thing. This works both ways, good opinions and bad. So there are more out there that think the same as that horrible reviewer, but aren’t saying anything (possibly because they’re afraid of scary crazy author person chasing them down). So even if you did stop that one reviewer – which you won’t – it doesn’t stop opinions.

Also, reviews aren’t for you. They’re for the reader. Reviewers tell other readers what they think of a book, and whether you should pick it up or dear gawd don’t waste your money and time. These are valid warnings. If a reviewer for the Crusty Literary Readers Guild or The Stories Should Be About White Dudes Club doesn’t like my book about a woman writing travel guides for monsters, then they should probably warn other readers like them not to pick it up. Perfectly valid.

I really can’t think of any instance where an author complained about a review and it turned out OK for them. There was Anne Rice’s meltdown eleven years ago, and she is still campaigning against people who have opinions online. (I won’t link to the site where she does this because they cry about bullies but then go after “SJWs” – a huge red flag for me since it’s a term almost exclusively used by bigots associated with groups like Gamergate and Rabid Puppies) Laurel K Hamilton freaked out on her own blog. And now we have another one, a man posting an incomprehensible rant against a reviewer, comparing her to a child abductor. His comments have since been removed, but archives and an article about the incident are here.

That article makes a good point- the author is always the one who looks bad in this. ALWAYS. I don’t care if they said you were a poopyface that eats vomit and kicks baby birds. The moment you go “NUH UH, STOP BEING MEAN” you look like the jerk. People are going to wonder why you are spending so much time messing with this review. You’re a writer, why are you rampaging online instead of writing more?

I use goodreads, but as a reader. I like to keep track of my books. I don’t even write reviews anymore, unless I’m strongly driven (Station Eleven) to or it’s a medium in which I’m not currently writing (i wrote a review of the horror manga Uzumaki because it was amazing except for one aspect I needed to comment on). I’m technically on it as an author, but I never look at my reviews. There is zero point to it, unless I want to have a really good reason to drink that night.

You can go Jay and Silent Bob if you like, and take all the money you have and use it to track down everyone on the Internet who ever said anything bad about you and then punch them, but there are better uses for money, and that won’t stop MORE people from calling you an idiot for making that use of your time and money.

Satisfying, maybe. Illegal and impossible, definitely.

Look out the window right now, at the wide world. Perhaps the sun is shining. Perhaps the moon is up. Perhaps birds are singing or hopping around a feeder or bath. Maybe a cat is sitting on a fence, licking her paw. Maybe a neighbor or coworker wanders by and waves. You know, logically, that apart from the lovely view out your window, there are also likely rotting dead animals in the woods, and worms and beetles teem under the rocks in your garden, and copperheads lurk in the grass, ready to bite your dogs in the face***, and that person likely has skeletons in their closet they pray no one will ever find.

Internet comments, and some reviews, are the under-the-rock, rotting animal, secret-keeping neighbor that we all know are there, but to see them we have to hunt for them. So the question is, do you enjoy the view from your window, or do you purposefully go look under a rock just to get grossed out?

(and don’t tell me that you go under the rocks to remove the pests from your garden. You’ll end up killing some earthworms if you do that, which damages your garden. And the earthworms are your loyal readers who just lost respect for you because you threw a great big noisy fuss online. Metaphors. BOOM.)

I’ve gotten bad reviews. When I first got nominated for the Campbell, I had a very weird super-backhanded compliment given to me on a blog. But I learned in fifth fucking grade that ignorance is bliss – I was much happier before someone intercepted a note and showed me a line completely unflattering about me. Because what can you do about it? (Note- the answer is NOT go-apeshit-on-the-Internet.) Remember the Bonnie Raitt song “I can’t make you love me?” Well, you can’t make people love your work. And if you throw a fit online, you’re actively making them love you less. Not your work: you.

So you run across a bad review, or someone “helpfully” tells you about it. What can you do? You can get back to fucking work. That’s pretty much my answer for everything these days. Mad at something? Write. Trolls trolling online? Write. Grackles overtaking the birdfeeder? Write.

Do something that only you can control, and remember that they have no power over you but what you give them.


*Yeah, this was my Publishers Weekly review. 99% positive, a comment that the romance was weak, and I was devastated. Illogical, I know.
**I’ve stopped answering when people ask me this. No one has ever liked any of the reasons I told them.
***Happened last summer. That was a fun night. If you go on a long trip in the summer, remember to pay someone to mow your grass.

Hannibal breaks suspension of disbelief [SPOILERS]

Major spoilers for Hannibal, up to S3, Ep1.

I’ll buy that Hannibal Lecter is brilliant. I’ll buy that he’s the most sophisticated guy that makes royalty look like the guy in my sixth grade class who dropped out of school because he was 16. (He wasn’t much to talk to, but boy he got picked first in softball ALL THE TIME.) I’ll buy that he has Bruce Wayne-like wealth where you don’t see him do much work but you see the result of his spending. I will EVEN buy that he is the devil made flesh, someone who watches the world with disconnected interest, poking at anthills to see how the ants will rebuild after the devastation. (This is how Mads Mikkelsen plays him, a Lucifer-like sociopath.)

But, god or not, Hannibal Lecter has the same hours in the day as the rest of us. And that’s where I don’t buy him.

Let’s look at a typical Hannibal day, as I imagine it:

  • 530am- get dressed, make gourmet breakfast of last nights kidneys and eggs. Vacuum brewed coffee. Contemplate the world and the rude.
  • 630am- Calisthenics, yoga, whatever he does to keep his “person suit” looking good. Shower. Dress very purposefully and tie his tie in a way that only tie enthusiasts know how to do it. (Some fanboy in Hannibal’s world has a Pinterest account with all of the creepy stalker shots of his ties. When Hannibal finds out, he will eat him.)
  • 730am- clean up from breakfast, tidy up his bedroom. Leaves house perfect.
  • 830am- work. As Hannibal trusts no one, he must spend the morning on paperwork, doing his own admin and accounting and scheduling.
  • 12pm- lunch. Small gourmet bistro. He lingers. Hannibal doesn’t rush his food.
  • 130pm- Time for patients. Somehow he makes cray-cray money on his four patients that he sees daily.
  • 530pm- after-work errands. Again, I believe Hannibal trusts no one, so he does grocery shopping, dry cleaners (SO MUCH DRY CLEANING), and bank on his own. While Hannibal may use a gourmet grocery delivery service for his truffles and he has his Jamon Iberico and his illegal ortolan suppliers, I bet he shops for his bleach and his scrub brushes and his plastic on his own.
  • 7pm- Time to cook dinner. Whether it’s for himself or a party, it will be gourmet and it will be perfectly prepared. A macaroni noodle has never crossed his lips.
  • 9pm- Real work time. First off, gotta go see Miriam Lass, the hostage he’s brainwashing. Feed her. Probably bathe, replace tampons and toothpaste supplies. Bit more brainwashing. Drive back.
  • 11pm- Murder time. Gotta stalk, kill in just the right way, clean up all evidence, arrange the remains in a horrific puzzle piece for Will Graham, the true love of his life. One more evidence-cleaning pass. Measure twice, cut once, that’s what Hannibal lives by.
  • 3am- Home. Shower. Probably should do an evidence-pass through the house to make sure he didn’t track  any evidence in, like a naughty dog.
  • 4am- Read. Listen to fine music. Practice the harpsichord. You can’t let these skills atrophy.
  • 5am- bed.

At some point in there he had the time to slice up Dr. Gideon and cook and feed him, while doing skilled surgery so that Gideon was neither doped up on morphine nor in visible agony.

It doesn’t add up. I don’t even think I’m giving him enough time for his hostage. Wasn’t she in Virginia? An hour or two away? I can’t remember and the wiki doesn’t help. Still, that takes a long time to do all that.

We can assume Hannibal cleans house on the weekends. But that’s a big, fine place, and he’s a wax-your-floors and polish-the-silver kind of guy. So his house cleaning has got to be an all-day thing.

And, yes, I know he doesn’t kill someone every day. His freezer would overflow. Duh.

But. It was the realization (brilliant, horrifying) that Miriam Lass was alive and a brainwashed hostage that broke me. You mean he does everything he ALREADY does, and manages to not only have a hostage and keep her alive, but have the time to travel to see her and BRAINWASH her too? Not enough time in the day, man. Just not enough time.

See, evil geniuses can’t afford sleep deprivation. Get enough sleep dep, you start acting drunk.

LECTER YAWNS, SQUINTS AT WILL: Will, are you wearing a crown of human thumbs tied together with orange yarn?
WILL, LOOKS DOUBTFUL: No, Dr. Lecter, why would you ask such a thing? Are you all right? Is this another test?
LECTER STUMBLES AND FALLS, SMILES UP AT WILL FROM THE HARDWOOD FLOOR: Totes. Just need a nap. Will, you’re my best friend. I don’t tell you that enough. We should totally eat someone together.


If you ask me, the move to Florence was probably a relief for him. No more worrying about his basement stash of meat, or his patients, and the only person he needs to brainwash is, conveniently, living with him. (Can’t WAIT for Bedelia’s story. That was my HOLY SHIT! moment in the first S3 episode. I’d been waiting for the story of what happened during her attack. Still many unanswered questions.)

IN other news, if you’re a Hannibal fan, you MUST read this blog. The food designer from the show regularly blogs each episode, and it’s fascinating reading about what she does, and how she handles things like Lawrence Fishburn’s dietary restrictions, and how hard it is to find a red grape this time of year. The latest blog post reveals that she was the mastermind behind Ep1’s snail theme.

Standing With Irene

I’m not an eloquent debate enthusiast. My words dry up when struggling to defend myself or my positions. Fiction is easy. Arguing is not. It’s just the way I am. And as it’s the end of the day, more eloquent people than me have written about this. So I will link to them, and just say I stand with Irene. I definitely would want someone to stand with me.

So read the following to learn more:

  • Kameron Hurley- The Revolution of Self-Righteous Dickery will Not Be Moderated

    So here’s the deal: it fucking sucks to be a woman in the workplace, and to have your employer throw you under the bus for saying a true thing. It fucking sucks that guys who have been there longer and have said the same shit for years (and others who actively harassed people and had to be encouraged to quit their jobs because they wouldn’t even fire them for it!) get a private slap at best and the public shit hammer comes down on you because you’re the softer target.
    It. Fucking. Sucks.

  • Ditch Diggers co-host Matt Wallace- When We Drive out the Innovators We Are Left Only with the Sad and Rabid

    What is not open for debate is the fact Irene has helped and is helping innovate a major appendage of a major publisher and is one among several pairs of hands shaping a better, more interesting, more diverse future for authors and readers of SFF. That is not only needed, it is necessary. It is absolutely vital. She should be elevated for that, not sacrificed to a small clan of mediocre throwbacks because they can be the most vocal on the fucking internet.
    Tor’s position on this, among myriad other ways that position is f’ed up, is one of trading innovation and a wider audience for the utterly narrow; a narrow viewpoint expressed by a narrow demographic of the narrow-minded.
    The Puppies keep saying they want change, but what they want is things to go back to the way they were.
    That’s what really pisses them off so much.
    They want things to stay the same.
    They don’t want change.

  • Chuck Wendig- I Stand By Irene Gallo

    a) the publisher wants to publicly shame a woman editor for saying things that other editors have said in the past, and in publishing that apology out on the big wide Internet, they then:
    b) want to reassure the horrible people that hey, horrible people, you’re welcome under the tent, too, and we’re sorry for pointing out that you’ve been defecating on our beach for a while, no, no, it’s fine, keep defecating on our beach, we are inclusive to all beach-goers and that includes you feisty beach-shitters too here we’ll even put up a sign BEACH-SHITTERS WELCOME TOO!
    This is the publisher that housed a known harasser of women (and said nothing), by the way.
    So, we’re talking double — nngh, maybe triple? — standards going on here.

  • Mary Robinette Kowal- Comment on Tor.com, Letter to Tom Doherty

    The fact that you are now defending the Sad Puppies campaign, even implicitly, and apologizing to them for being offended is really distressing. It implies things about the priorities of Tor that I find uncomfortable and would very much like to be wrong about. At the moment though, I feel as though the safety of women authors, and authors of color is less important to the company than the feelings of those who attack them.

  • Andrea Phillips- Get Thee to HR to be Hanged

    But [demanding someone be fired is] not the very first step in the process. Unless you’re happy operating as an angry mob like GamerGate, and I am very much not happy with that. I want to be better than that. If you believe in social justice, you damn well should be better than that. Due process. It’s a beautiful thing. I believe in it, because I’d rather justice be slow than that innocent people have their lives ruined.