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.

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.

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.

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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.