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.

ConFusion Schedule

I will be attending ConFusion in Novi, Michigan next weekend! I’m really looking forward to it, and have some great panels scheduled. (Schedule may change, but only to add stuff, not subtract)

Friday 7:00:00 PM Pitch Me Your Elevator
The panel, using their wit and guile, will craft elevator pitches on the spot for classic novels and films. Bonus points will be awarded for style points. Who will take home the title of Elevator Pitch Champion?
Laura Resnick, Mari Brighe, Robert Jackson Bennett (M), Mur Lafferty, Pablo Vazquez

Saturday 9:00:00 AM Author RPG: Planet Mercenary!
Authors from across the genre spectrum come together to put Howard Tayler’s new game, Planet Mercenary, to the test. Come watch these exceptional creatives put on a show and enjoy some laughs. Please remember to give the players their space.
Howard Tayler (M), Brian McClellan (M), Delilah S. Dawson, Cherie Priest, Mur Lafferty, Robert Jackson Bennett, Saladin Ahmed, Brent Weeks

Saturday 3:00:00 PM Fangirls Over 30
While no one seems to be surprised when men are still playing video games and reading comics into their 30’s, in some circles women face more pressure to give up their fannish passions now that they’re “grown up.” Our panelists discuss this phenomenon and how to fight it.
Sal Palland, Angie Rush, Jessica Zerwas, Suzanna Grossman, Mur Lafferty

Saturday 4:00:00 PM Autograph Session 1

Sunday 11:00:00 AM Formative Fiction: The Books That Hooked You
Every one remembers the book that turned them into a reader for life. The panel will discuss the books that were formative in their reading lives. What makes a piece of fiction formative?  How does formative fiction evolve with time? Is this work different for today’s new readers than it was for the previous generation or, even, the one before that?
Mary Lynne Gibbs, Ferrett Steinmetz, Cassandra Rose Clarke, Mur Lafferty, Sarah Gibbons

I see you, Failure (Pt. 1 – The Workout)

TeaParty-2.8x2I saw failure yesterday, so I invited her in for tea.

Failure was a woman this time, with the kind of toned, tight arms and back I’ve always wanted. She wore a ponytail and sweat didn’t sting her eyes. She came in for a post-workout protein drink. We decided to be casual for this party.

I figured my first tea party with failure this year would be work related. But writing is going well. Instead I’m paying for a gym, by gum, and want to freaking get my money’s worth. So I went to a class yesterday. That’s when Failure came a-knocking.

I’m very annoyed at the gym. It has various levels of classes, and used to have a yoga class in the mornings. But not enough people came, and now all the yoga classes are at bad times for me so I have to take the more strenuous classes. So I was already cranky.

The room was absolutely full. This is a ridiculously popular weights/cardio/yoga program, and just for funsies, it’s done in a super hot room. I had to have some very toned, already sweating people scoot to give me room for my yoga mat.

At the front of the room. Newbie in the front so everyone could see…

Fuck, I gotta get there earlier next time.

I’ve got an ankle with tendonitis, but just between you and me, I would have done poorly even if I hadn’t been modifying the program to make up for my brace. Just a few exercises in this furnace was murder. Plank, then down to forearm plank, then plank again! Mountain climbers! Burpees! Yoga with weights! Squats! Jump squats! Push ups! Funky crunches! MORE PLANK.

Halfway through I took a “water break” just to get out of the heat. This meant I had to walk through a bunch of tightly packed people exercising much better than me. “Don’t compare yourself to anyone else,” everyone says. But we all do. And I could hear, “this sucks, but at least I am not lumbering through and taking frequent breaks like that woman in front of the class.”

(My saving grace was I’d worn my prescrip. sunglasses and left my everyday glasses in the car. Once the sunglasses came off, I couldn’t see a goddamn thing. So if people were looking at me, I had no idea. So I had that at least.)

Near the end of the class, all I was doing was hanging on and hoping I wouldn’t faint. Or vomit up all the water I had drunk so I wouldn’t be left a dry husk on the floor. It was at this point that I had my epiphany. This was a failure.* This was something I had to do, accept, acknowledge, process, and move on.

At 42, with the metabolism slowing down, I’m rapidly becoming what Douglas Coupland calls a “thin fat person.” I’ve never been very big but what there is of me is getting squishy. I’m a writer and sedentary. I haven’t truly exercised since August. I have always had toothpick arms. And I sat in a car a lot over the holidays. Also, holidays. I am out of shape.

This is the second time I’ve done this crazy popular weights/yoga/cardio/hot as hell class. There’s no way I was going to do as well as everyone else in there. There’s no shame in that. I struggled. A lot. Then, I looked up at the ceiling while I was doing one of my 2,395 breaks during class, while everyone around me continued doing crunches, and realized it was OK. This sucked. It is going to keep sucking for some time until my body starts to wake up. That’s OK too. I just need to keep doing. Failure and I are going to keep working out together and keep trying not to faint together, and have a protein drink (do they have to taste so gritty?) together afterward.

I see you, Failure. Come on in and have a cup of tea – er, gritty protein drink – and we’ll talk about my workout plans.

* Please don’t worry about me and think that I’m super down on myself. Go and read this blog post about Failure and 2016.

It’s a Monday: Post-Illogicon and David Bowie Thoughts

Illogicon
We had a local con this past weekend, and I was Guest of Honor. It was the third time I had done the GoH thing, and it was by far the best. One previous time was nice, but I didn’t know a lot of people at the con so I felt strangely out of place, and another previous time should not be talked about in public. *

I also didn’t know HOW to be a GoH. No one tells you that. Well, no one except Mary Robinette Kowal, who included a GoH guide in her series of blog posts for debut authors.

But I kind of know what I’m doing now (in no small part thanks to MRK), what I need from the con, and how to get it. And this con had a lot of friends and colleagues and, bonus, my family were able to drop by.

I had an hour-long reading. I’ve not had very good readings at recent cons, again, not going to go into the details why, but my confidence has been shaken. So I read from a work my agent is shopping around and then just talked to people.

Then something amusing happened. To set the stage: In season 4 of Arrested Development**, George Michael Bluth is in college and, through misunderstandings and trying to impress a woman, suddenly finds that an app he and a friend are writing is blowing up to rival Facebook, VC angels are lining up to help fund, and Anonymous is targeting him. It’s one huge misunderstanding but he’s so taken in by the attention that he goes along with it. When you find out what the app really is, it’s a hysterical reveal.

To bring us back to Illogicon, with time still left in the reading, I started talking about various things I am working on. Because Ursula was my media escort (THANK you, Ursula. Kids, if you’re ever GoH, always get an escort. Even if you’re not going to be mobbed like GRRM or Gaiman, it’s still vital.) she was there with me, and we started talking about a very weird idea we have had together, one that our friends and family and agents think we’re crazy for coming up with. Contrarily, we’re even more driven to create this. I threw out the idea that we should, instead of making it a story, to make it a text based online story app (like the Choice Of Games) and said it could be similar to Hatoful Boyfriend. (Something I’ll write about later.) We laughed about it, and then the hour with Mur was over, and I went on to the next thing.

That night I read a blog post from someone who was there, and he mentioned “the video game Mur and Ursula are working on.” O_O

Then the VCs started calling. Then Sony. Then those TVs at gas pumps started talking about the mysterious game writing geniuses…

OK, maybe not. Ursula said if Sony called then we will do all that we can to make this damn thing a video game. But… Sony’s not calling yet. And we have nothing close to a story, much less a video game. But it was nice to have someone excited about it, at last.

Other highlights of the weekend: my kiddo did a hand-sewn costume of Frisk from Undertale which won her Best Youth entry in the costume contest! Did I get a picture? Sigh…

I did a Live Podcast panel where I brought Ursula to the stage to run through Publishing D&D, like Matt and I did at WorldCon for Ditch Diggers. It was a lot of fun (and I was more prepared). In response to a encounter with a little gelatinous cube that sat in the front row, regurgitated an arm to wave at her and offer “not a question, more of a comment”, Ursula drew this after the panel:

“Not a question, more of a comment.” Ursula Vernon

All in all, Illogicon was awesome! Thanks to the great volunteers for their hard work in making me feel welcome, and I can’t wait till next year because it will have Daniel José Older as GoH.

*Ask me at a con. After you buy me a drink.
** I’m so conflicted about season four of Arrested Development. It had a lot of problems, like uncomfortable problems. On the storytelling craft and episode editing, it was brilliant. On the actual story, showing how the characters had evolved, it was terrible. I can go on about that in another post, because it fascinates me and bugs the shit out of me at the same time.

#

Bowie
A lot of times when celebrities die, the Internet goes into loud, collective mourning on social media, and I don’t join in. Sometimes I don’t feel my “me too, sad” addition will contribute, sometimes I feel more comfortable with my own thoughts. Sometimes I feel separated from reality, like I don’t understand how we can attack someone one day and then deify them once they’re dead. (eg: Michael Jackson.)

Or sometimes, as in the case of David Bowie, I don’t feel as if I had enough ownership of the man to mourn without feeling like a pretender.

This is ridiculous on several levels. As someone with perhaps… .000001% of Bowie’s fame, I still resent the idea that fans can claim an ownership of me and my work. But it’s what happens, right or wrong. When you’re a fan, the art speaks to you, it becomes part of you. You feel ownership. This is why people come to blows over insults against a piece of art. You insult this thing I love, you insult ME. But I never owned Bowie.

Aside: I like that. “Wasn’t a fan” implies I have active negative feelings instead of neutrality. “Didn’t own” can mean closer to the concept of accepting their talent but saying their work was never a big part of my life.

To tell you about my music and musical movie upbringing, or lack thereof, the first time I’d heard of David Bowie or Bing Crosby was when they did a duet of “The Little Drummer Boy.” I saw it on MTV as a teen and, since I didn’t know the old crooner or the wild young rock star, I didn’t realize the irony of that pairing for the song. I just thought it was a pretty song by two men.

Later in life when I saw the world outside the wee little mountain town I great up in, I always liked what I heard from Bowie. In particular, I loved Labyrinth. Loved how he snapped at Terry Gross about how Ziggy Stardust was a tiny bit of his huge career, but people love focusing on that part. And “Space Oddity” was the one song of his that simply ripped my heart out.

But still, I don’t own any albums, can’t tell you how his career moved through the decades. The world is mourning and I feel distracted and odd, sad but not sure I have the right to feel sad, and then I’m annoyed because dammit, I deserve to feel however I feel.

I can tell you this much, he was a genius, prolific, always evolving, and I’m very sorry he’s gone.