On Letting Go (and killing darlings)

[It’s really freaking hard to not have every blog post be OMG I AM HUGO FINALIST HEAR ME SQUEE! but I think that might get old.]

I got a “domain about to expire” email from my domain provider a few days ago, and I’ve let it sit for a while, trying to figure out what to do. It’s strange how we get tied to simple things.

heavennovel.com is up for renewal. And I don’t think I’m going to do it. This was a surprisingly difficult decision.

Background: Ten years ago, when I was publishing via podcast only, I wrote a bunch of novellas that got a very passionate fan base. I tried to combine them to become novel-length to sell them to a publisher, and didn’t get any interest. I finally decided after two agents and a bunch of rejections, that I would crowdfund to pay for a good ebook transfer so I could get it to the fans who had been asking for it for years. The kickstarter funded at almost 1000% and I created hard copies as well as ebooks. And the ebooks sold!

The popularity of the kickstarter got another agent interested in me. By now, I had edited the books so many times, to make them flow as novels, then to make them skew more YA, then to skew them back to adult when the YA version didn’t sell, that I was entirely sick of them. I told her I really didn’t want to work through them again, but she encouraged me. When she saw the edit she said, “Oh. You really don’t want to work through this again, do you?”

What gave you that idea?

Note that years are passing here. I’m becoming a better writer, I’m writing a new urban fantasy about monsters needing travel guides. I’m attending grad school. My agent had zero interest in my urban fantasy, so I sold it myself by networking at a con and sending my manuscript to an editor I had coffee with. Then my agent quit being an agent and passed me to her boss, a longtime veteran of publishing. This agent did not do SFF. She was not interested in the stuff I was currently writing and how I was growing. She called my new writing “brutal” more than once. She did not mean this in a good way. (I guess she hadn’t read Hunger Games.) 

Yes, the gentle Hunger Games.

Instead, new agent wanted me to revise the novellas. Again.

Or I could do this, which would be more productive.

I told her that I’d been down that road before and it was a dead end, and she said the market had changed and she thought it could be a breakthrough hit. I liked the idea of a hit. But then I thought about going back to what I was writing seven years before, and the anxiety and dread was similar to the feeling one gets coming home from vacation and realizing your cat sitter hadn’t scooped the litter once. I politely asked her if she had any interest in the stuff I was working on at the time, and she said no.

So we parted ways and I found an awesome agent who represents SFF and likes my stuff. As for The Afterlife Series, I’ve put it behind me. I love the fact that the books helped build my fanbase, and it was an important step I took toward the writer I am now, and heck, the ebook sales still trickle in, but I think it’s time to stop spending money on the domain for a project that makes me spike anxiety just to think about it. Still, it’s a tough step. It feels like killing a darling in a book.

Hey. Note that nowhere in this history of this failed series did I decide the world wasn’t ready for my genius and I should quit.

It’s still looking a lot like…

I’m one of THOSE people. When Christmas decorations/merchandise start going up in September and everyone begins groaning, I am secretly thrilled. I like looking forward to Christmas. I like the anticipation. When I was a kid, I used to listen to our old Christmas records in August, much to my parents’ annoyance. Nowadays I’m a little less tolerant of constant carols, but otherwise I have the same child-like joy when those decorations go up and the merchandise comes out.

I am fully aware I’m like one of three people in the whole world who thinks this.

However. I am trying to figure out why my neighbor had their Christmas tree up — AND LIT — on January 31 this year. When I went to visit my dad in the mountains, Banner Elk, NC still had the city snowflakes and reindeer decorations hanging downtown. When I went to Pigeon Forge, TN this month, they also had lights, decorations, and more just up and twinkling away.

Yesterday (March 10) I passed a car with a Christmas wreath on the hood.

Shel Silverstein didn’t know he was prophetic.

Here’s where I’m confused. I don’t like this and I have no idea why the world isn’t whining and complaining now as much as they do in September. Because in my mind, anticipation is awesome. Let’s look forward to Christmas! Food and family and presents and carols and love and stuff! But afterward it feels like keeping your ex-boyfriend’s stuff around after he ragequits your relationship. You miss him being there so you keep his t-shirt lying around, you don’t remove his loving voice mails, you still look at the Pinterest board you two were building for the trip to Italy you were going to take one day.

Christmas detritus feels so sad. Like we have to hold onto the limp tinsel in order to try to hold onto the feeling instead of trying to move forward and enjoy the year.

Part of me wonders if it’s a sort of post election depression, that as a society (the Christmas-celebrating people, anyway) we are hanging onto the last bright spot in our collective memories: Christmas was here, Obama was president, and they year from hell was almost over. Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds were still hanging on to life. And that present under the tree looked like a new PS4 instead of a new stew pot, which is what it turned out to be.

It’s so widespread – mountains and city, at least three states – I don’t know if anyone can put their finger on exactly why Christmas is lingering so much. You might say it’s societal laziness/depression, but I know some places that are still lighting their lights (Although I haven’t seen a Christmas tree since mid-Feb.) which requires some action.

But damn, I wish they would clean it up and look forward. If we’re still focused on last Christmas in March, then we’re really not approaching the new(ish) year in the proper assertive mindset.

But if anyone wants to talk Christmas, 2017, let’s talk in August.

RESIST with 90’s technology

If you have paid any attention to me at all in the past 10 or so years, you can probably guess I’m in the RESIST side of the current administration.

However, I am bad at confrontation. I clam up. All of my arguments evaporate and my throat goes dry. This doesn’t mean the other person won; it’s rare I’ve been convinced otherwise. I just suck at presenting my case.

I know when it comes to calling your representatives’ offices, you can have a script, and there are several suggested ones you can find so you don’t even have to write one yourself. Which is great. But when I actually get up the courage to call, and get a busy signal (YAY all you people who aren’t afraid to call!), it’s hard to ramp up that courage again.

I did it, though. I tried. I never got through. I felt even worse; I was ready to fight in my own small way and I couldn’t get through the first door. Then I found out that Washington DC is about 20 or so years behind with regards to technology (and a bunch of other stuff that I won’t get into here). They have fax machines. And there are free fax services online. And shit, I can write a letter. Writing is what I’m good at. Talking/debating/arguing, not so much.

So every day I open up Google Drive and update the letters I want to send to my representatives. I use faxzero.com, which allows five free faxes per day. I send them off (I have all the phone numbers and fax numbers I need in my shiny new bullet journal, which I’ll talk about on another day.) I get confirmation emails. And I’ve done something.

My senators are Thom Tillis (R) and Aaron Richard Burr (R) (yes, relation) so I really doubt they will listen to a fucking thing I say. But I will still say it. I usually try to be polite. Sometimes I am rude (ie I called them both “silencer of women” after the Elizabeth Warren shutdown the other night). But I will still contact them.

Thank you, 90’s technology.

Resist.

Peeking out of the burrow

I recently was looking for news on someone and I went to their blog. There was nothing on there but occasional podcasts. Then I realized that, uh, my own blog is just like that. I haven’t posted anything new in a very long time. I also have been very quiet on Twitter.

Part of the reason why I haven’t posted is depression over the election. I haven’t posted anything regarding that because I have nothing new to say about it that 2.6+ million people haven’t already said. I’m despondent and afraid.

But life goes on. I have to get out of my burrow and keep going and keep creating. So first, a rather lengthy update on me:

Books and other Fictiony things!
Six Wakes and Bookburners (affiliate links) come out next month! Six Wakes received a STARRED REVIEW OMG from Publishers Weekly.

This space-based locked-room murder mystery explores complex technological and moral issues in a way that’s certain to earn it a spot on award ballots.

Bookburners also got some Publishers Weekly love.

The action jumps around the globe, with side trips to other dimensions, while the writing briskly slides between vividly horrific and flippantly camp.

(You can probably guess who wrote the “flippantly camp” episodes.)

And my short story will appear in Star Wars Insider on December 27! “Voices of the Empire” was teased on Del Rey’s facebook page today!

art by Jason Chan!

art by Jason Chan!

Travel and other travely things!
We recently got back from a big time weekend in New York City for Jim’s birthday where we were hardcore tourists: Empire State Building, ice skating, shopping, restaurants, and the crowning event, seeing Hamilton! I can safely say that if anyone was worried the actors replacing the original cast would be sub-par, there is nothing to worry about. It’s still an amazing show that had us both laughing and crying. It was a thrill to see a handful of original cast members like Okieriete Onaodowan and Jasmine Cephas Jones (not to mention Thayne Jasperson from the ensemble).

Holidays
Fiona and I decided not to do the traditional Advent Calendar video podcast, what with travel for us and homework for her. She’s doing great in high school, though, we are typical crazy proud parents.

We are staying home for Christmas, and I continue to watch made for TV holiday movies so that you don’t have to. I’ll be reviewing them on the site, so long as I can continue to stay above ground close to my burrow.

What else?
Fiona got her braces off. She was pissed off that she needed to re-learn how to play the trumpet again.

Mothership Zeta has decided to go on hiatus and our last magazine before the break will be next month.

In November I remembered how tiring audiobook recording was when I narrated Six Wakes. But it’s done!

I participated in NaNoWriMo last month, and even though I didn’t win, I got farther than I ever had before. I ended at 45000 words, and although some might say “oh, so close!” I still feel pretty damn good about it. With two days left and more narration to do (see above) I knew I wouldn’t make the 7000 words I needed to win. So I ended up at 45K and satisfied.

I quit drinking soda. I’m pretty pissed that I haven’t seen any benefit from it. I hate it when they say “this is so bad for you” and then when you cut it out, nothing happens. Probably something good is going on inside but I can’t tell any difference.

And that’s the news with me. I think I hit most of the important points.

Wrun with Writers, Voltron, and Me

MONETARY UPDATE: We’re up to $265! Come on folks, let’s get me into clothing that won’t make me overheat and die!

Update 8-16-16: We didn’t get the attention I’d hoped for, so I just bought myself a Power Rangers dress to run in anyway. We did raise $265 for Worldbuilders, and that’s nothing to sneeze at. Hope to see people at the Wrun with Writers event on Friday!

The whole thing with Voltron started with me commenting on Twitter regarding NC politics, cheering on our Attorney General Roy Cooper. So I posted this on Twitter.

Then, author Adam Rakunas posted this:

Wrun with Writers is our twist at Stroll with the Stars, which is a common SF convention event where people can go walking with guests from the con. Last year Adam and I were talking about our love of running, and we said we would run together, and then suggested making it an event. Thus Wrun with Writers was born.

It’s not a race; it’s just a 5K (3.1 miles, or one standard Pokemon egg) trek, as fast or slow as you like, around Kansas City. Then breakfast. Cause you will deserve a breakfast.

The first one happened at Spokane WorldCon, which was on fire. We had four people, including we two organizers. It wasn’t very smoky, but ash was falling from the sky. It was quite apocalyptic and thrilling, actually. I’m looking for pictures on Twitter but it’s hard to search a year back. Trust me. It was epic.

So this year we’re doing it again, and hoping for more than four people. And apparently now I’m doing it in a Voltron costume. Only, I want some incentive, and Adam’s offer gave me an idea.

I will only run in a ridiculous outfit if people give to charity. Adam’s pledged $100 and by gum I’m holding him to that, so I guess we’re already at Voltron. But let’s up the stakes.

$100Voltron Costume (for men, apparently)
$200Disguise Women’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Sassy Raphael Halloween Costume
$300Disguise Women’s Deluxe Power Ranger Costume I will also add $100* and Adam will wear a costume. He hasn’t agreed to this yet. But I don’t care.
$400Power Rangers Blue Ranger Skater Dress
$500Disguise Women’s Sassy Deluxe Power Ranger Costume

More than $500??? I will take suggestions, with the caveat that I will not wear something that will cause health problems (I’m running, after all) or cause me to hate the world, ie sexy Ghostbuster. I will not do Sexy Ghostbuster. I will do legit Ghostbuster. Let’s call that:

$600- Legit Ghostbuster  (hell, I might just get this cause it’s awesome) and I’ll find a proton pack. Or proton pistols Holtzmann style.

Movie-Ghostbusters-2016-2

* My $100 will not count toward the grand total.

Note- I leave for WorldCon next week, and I will have to order the costume, so this has to be a quick fund drive. I’m posting it Monday night, but will be promoting it Tuesday all day.

The charity: Worldbuilders! Worldbuilders is a charity founded by author Pat Rothfuss in order to use the collective power of readers, fellow authors and book lovers to make the world a better place. Money earned goes toward Heifer International, one of my favorite charities.

So how do you do this? Let’s cut out the middle Mur and encourage you to donate directly to Worldbuilders, and then mail your receipt to mightymur@gmail DOT COM and I’ll add it to the total. And we’ll see how crazy this gets.

WorldCon Schedule

UPDATED to include the reading and literary beer.

I’ll be attending MidAmericon II August 18-21, and here’s my schedule:

Reading: Mur Lafferty
Wednesday 4:00pm-4:30pm, 2202 (Readings) (Kansas City Convention Center) Am I slightly worried about having a reading at 4pm on Wednesday? Yes. Yes I am.
Mur Lafferty

Literary Beer : Mur Lafferty, Helen Pennington
Wednesday 7:00pm, Literary Beer Space (Kansas City Convention Center)
Mur Lafferty, Dr Helen Pennington

The Care and Feeding of Minions
Thursday 2:00pm 2503B (Kansas City Convention Center)
A panel of aspiring Evil Overlords need Minions to carry out their evil biddings.  But now that minions have heard of collective bargaining and have seen what non evil overlords offer their workers, it isn’t as easy as it once was.
Ms. Lynn Gold, Mur Lafferty, David D. Levine, Julia Mandala

Ditch Diggers Podcast LIVE
Thursday 7:00pm
(Not sure what the program will say about it, or where it is yet, but dang, y’all, another DD live. I can’t wait.)
Mur Lafferty, Matt Wallace

Wrun With Writers
Friday 09:00 Marriott Lobby (Kansas City Marriott Downtown)
Strolling with the Stars has been a Worldcon fixture, but what about those who want something a little more pulse-pounding? Something a little more sweaty? Something that will help shake off those morning doldrums and jump-start the day with a three-mile run? Mur Lafferty and Adam Rakunas would like you to bring your running shoes on Friday morning at 9am for a casual, no-drop fun run around the area. All participants get bragging rights and exclusive ribbons!
Adam Rakunas, Mur Lafferty

The Fine Art of Satire
Friday 1:00pm 2502A (Kansas City Convention Center)
How do you avoid stepping over the line into farce or polemics?
Eileen Gunn, John Kessel, Mur Lafferty, Milt Stevens, Esther Friesner (M)

Social Media, or, Why I Haven’t Finished My Novel
Saturday 1:00pm 2502B – A/V (Kansas City Convention Center)
Social media is addictive. So much so it can impact upon the work of authors. Our panelists discuss the importance of limiting themselves, differentiating between Social Media interactions for personal and professional reasons, and maybe even inspiration gleaned from Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Snapchat and the myriad sites available.
Melissa F. Olson (M), Jack Campbell Jr., J.R. Johansson, John Scalzi, Mur Lafferty

Literary Agents: Friend to Authors
Saturday 4:00pm  3501B (Kansas City Convention Center)
Literary agents do a lot more than “simply” negotiate deals for authors.  They can act as mediators, guide careers, and offer support when it is most needed.  Agents explain what they do and how they add value to a writer’s career.
Joshua Bilmes (M), Mur Lafferty, Eleanor Wood, Lauren Roy, Stephen Saffel

GenCon Schedule

This year (tomorrow!) I’m going to GenCon for the first time! I’ve always wanted to go as a gamer, and suddenly I’m going as a writing pro as part of the Writer’s Symposium. The world is weird.

Thursday
10:00 AM Business of Writing: Self Publishing 101 — Cabinet Room
4:00 PM Short Fiction: Beating the Slush Pile — Chamber Room
6:00 STORIUM LIVE! — (Actually I’m not sure where this one is. Check your program)

Friday
12:00 PM Writer’s Craft: Making Old Ideas Awesome — Chamber Room
1:00 PM Crowdfunding: Running the Campaign — Congress Room
3:00 PM Special Event: The Once and Future Podcast LIVE Mega-Cast!– Chamber Room
6:25 PM Writing Excuses — Cabinet Room

Saturday
11:00 AM Signing — Exhibit Hall

Star Wars, Storium, Travel, and More!

Here is where being an infrequent blogger is a bad thing. I have many, many things to talk about “all of a sudden” – all of a sudden wouldn’t come around if I blogged more often. Oops.

Star-Wars-Rogue-OneSTAR WARS, BABY!
I can finally talk about it, as it was announced over July 15th weekend at Star Wars Celebration: I’m writing a short story in the Star Wars universe for the magazine Star Wars Insider! It’s only a short story, but it’ll be canon. It will come out this December, and tie into the Rogue One movie. And that’s all I can say.

But damn. Star Wars. Mind. Blown.

HEAVEN STORIUM IS LIVE
I adapted my Afterlife world to Storium, and now you can playt hrough Heaven with the Storium platform! I was honored to be part of the Storium Kickstarter, and I’m so excited that my world is live at last!

UPCOMING TRAVEL
August is a super-busy month. In a week I leave for GenCon, my first time to the huge gaming convention where I will participate in the Writer’s Symposium (and be part of two live podcasts and a live Storium event). Then comes WorldCon in Kansas City, where Matt and I will be doing a live Ditch Diggers Event on Thursday night. I’ll get the schedules up closer to each event, but if you’re in town for either event, let me know!

MORE
The release of Six Wakes has moved to January 31, 2017. I’m sorry to have to report it, but I know this will allow production and marketing to work even more magic than they were doing before, and I hope the launch will be awesome. I’ll keep you updated regarding any launch events.

And yesterday I turned 43.

Hullo, 43.

Hullo, Mur.

You know, your sibling, 42, wasn’t everything it was cracked up to be. I don’t know if Douglas Adams lied, or 42 lied, or what, but damn. The world is on fire!

Things aren’t all good in the world, no. But you have to admit, things went your way more than most peoples’ this year. You’re fitter. You’ve got a fucking Star Wars story coming out. Things may not be coming up roses and daffodils, but at least maybe pansies and dandelions?

Dandelions are a weed, 43. Ask anyone who does lawn work.

You’re pedantic when you’re cranky.

I’m not cranky. Babies are cranky. I’m just looking at the state of the world and publishing and my own career and my daughter’s future and it’s scary.

You clean your own house, Lafferty, that’s all you’re responsible for. You write your stories and raise your kid and vote and tell your representatives you won’t stand for their shit. You do what you can.

Yeah. You’re right.

Fuck, does every year have to tell you to grow a goddamn spine and start finally adulting?

Yep. Pretty much.

Fine. Then I’ll clean my own mess, too.

You do that.

You’re part of that mess, you know. Your shitty ego and lack of confidence. I’mma clean it right the fuck up.

I know that, 43.

Good.

Good.

The Artist’s Way

I’m going to be attempting a group Artist’s Way journey for Patreon supporters starting next week. The Artist’s Way is a spiritual guide to creativity and I found it very useful to me a few years ago. I’ve always meant to do it again but it’s hard to keep up (like any habit). I’m hoping the group atmosphere will help everyone out.

Aside from the struggle of learning a new habit, the biggest complaint against the Artist’s Way is its mentioning of God or the Great Creator. Atheists shy away from this, thinking it’s all woo and nothing useful is in it. As I am not religious at all, here’s how I look at it: working through AW helps your brain process things, i.e. work through problems through journaling. Studies have shown when you journal and write down gratitudes, it improves your look on life. When you are feeling good, you’re more likely to notice good things like opportunities. I don’t believe that trusting in God will give me opportunities. I believe that improving my brain’s take on the world will allow me to see things and have ideas I wouldn’t have thought possible before.

Here’s a metaphor: It’s a beautiful sunny day. Some people will say God brought the sunny day, and be happy and satisfied. Some will say weather patterns and cold fronts cleared the sky, and be happy and satisfied. But the end result, a sunny day, is the same, and that’s what I’m shooting for with my take of the AW.

So if you want to join us, check out the Patreon. I’m not putting this on any tier; all levels can join in. You can throw in just a buck and come do the Artist’s Way with us.

I’m going to check out the workbook, but you totally don’t need to get it, the book is enough. Here are links to both the book and the workbook. (affiliate link)

Hamilton + Undertale = AWESOME

When Jim and I first tried to explain the Hamilton phenomenon to our kid, I said, “You know how your friends are going crazy over Undertale? That’s what my friends are doing over Hamilton.”

She was curious, so we played the soundtrack over the holiday road trip. She fell in love with it, and decided that those two tastes would be great together, so she made her first music video. She worked hard to try to match the characters (with some advice from my friend Sunil Patel, who is also a fan of both media), and picked one of her favorite songs. Considering she’s also got matches for King George and the Schuyler sisters, I doubt this is the last video she’ll do.

So with great pride, I present to you: part of “Aaron Burr, Sir” performed by the characters of the computer game Undertale, created by our 13 year old daughter, Fiona.