Update on recording

I recorded a show this week, and discovered the audio file got corrupted. i have to record again, which is sad-making. I’ll try to get it done this weekend and struggle back into a regular schedule.

This week I went to Busch Gardens with the kiddo, where we discovered that people do not want to go to an amusement park when there is the threat of rain, even if it’s lovely and mild, but if it’s 40 degrees and sunny, they will go in droves. We preferred the sort of rainy day. That is, until it started raining really hard.

We stayed at a nice hotel in Colonial Williamsburg, but that part of the state is strange, with few restaurants that aren’t attached to the historical area (and therefore packed.) The hotel restaurant was in a separate building (not a big deal unless it’s raining like crazy and 40 degrees.) and didn’t do room service.

The amusement park was fun, but the unexpected fun we had was at Colonial Williamsburg where we heard about this spy game they had for kids. Codes and cyphers and secret meetings with actors in town! We got all the information and went on our merry way. The letter you get starts with how revolution is starting, only Williamsburg is full of British sympathizers and they need to find people who are loyal the the rebels’ cause.

We got a blue bandana to wear, which would let the other couriers and people know who we were. Excited to play, we started out. Then we realized that Williamsburg was packed, completely packed with people playing this game. How were we going to have a secret meeting with the courier when hundreds of people around us were waiting for the same thing?

When the kiddo spotted a dog with the blue bandana on, that was it. We knew we were done. So, dejected, we wandered Williamsburg and tried to decide what to do. That’s when I came up with the idea that the town was fine, I couldn’t find any British sympathizers at all. The rebellion was downright healthy here. It seems what was needed was British double agents. So we walked around secretly collecting information for the British in order to report back about these Colonials who were getting uppity. It was amusing to us at least.

At night I tried to do work, but then I discovered my audio was corrupted. So, no editing for me. ūüôĀ But I’ll get some work done this weekend, and will have all sorts of awesome stuff for you next week!

Latest News, events, travel, cons, etc

Sorry for the radio silence last week, folks. Got hit with some mild depression and did a lot of offline stuff. I’m back, and working, and recording, and writing. But some news in brief:

  • As of noon EST, the Storium Kickstarter is at nearly $22,000! That means it could possibly reach its goal of $25k in one day. And then we have 29 more days to work on stretch goals, and I know they’re pretty damn awesome.
  • I was surprised and thrilled to be written up in the Durham Bulls blog, Hit Bull Win Blog, as a Superfan. Last year I was playing around with the idea of Sansa from A Song of Ice and Fire attending a Durham Bulls game as if it were a jousting tourney. I called it #sansaball and had fun doing it. The Bulls, a geeky organization, noticed, and wrote about me yesterday.
  • Next Thursday April 17 – I will be at the Barnes and Noble at Brier Creek, Raleigh, for a book event. If you missed the Flyleaf event, I’d love it if you could come by the B&N!
  • April 23 – I will be appear at the East Coast Gaming Conference (ECGC) on a panel about writing compelling characters. It’s a 3:15 panel, so if you’re in town for the event, check it out.
  • Future events: May 13-18-¬†I will be at the RT Booklover’s Convention¬†in New Orleans. It’s my first romance convention, I’m really excited to check it out.
  • June 27-29 – ConTemporal,¬†Raleigh. Not sure I will be on programming or not, but I’ll definitely attend. The child must cosplay, afterall.
  • August 14-18 – LonCon in London. Can’t WAIT for this. Haven’t been to London since 2001.
  • November 6-9 – World Fantasy Con in Washington DC.

I really wanted to hit NASFIC, but the timing just doesn’t work out for me with teaching this summer. It’s cutting it awfully close.

Anyway, that’s the news from me. Hope to see you at an event or three this year!

Back to writing and recording and stuff.

Boskone and professionalism

Yesterday afternoon I got home from Boskone. Had a stressful travel day, landed, and ran off to see Book of Mormon in Durham. It was awesome; I’ve been waiting nearly two years to see this show and it delivered.

Boskone was definitely worth the trip, despite the blizzard and the shortened con because I had to run home for the show. I got some good time with other authors, some editors, Stonecoast friends and mentors, and met some new fans. Panels were great, but one moment stood out: I had a “funny pose” panel (a-la Jim C. Hines) – which was amazingly fun – at 7pm on Saturday. At 730, Boskone held a big book launch party, and Orbit (my publisher) kindly sent in a box of Ghost Train to New Orleans. I was delighted and promised I’d get to the party right after the posing panel to push the books and sign them if people wanted me to. When I got there at 8pm they told me the very good and very bad news that my book had been one of the fastest moving titles (YAY) and thus they were all gone so there was nothing for me to sign, no fans to meet (BOO). Some people did find me later and have me sign their copy. (YAY)

But one thing came out of the con that has me thinking: I want to talk professionalism: When we talk about being a pro, it often means doing work even when we don’t want to, and being polite to others in your field so you’re not mocked as being a sexist asshat, but another aspect of being a pro hit me this weekend: no matter what level in your career that you are in, you go to cons to connect with people. Readers, writers, editors, agents, fans, dealers, what have you. Even if you’re a veteran there just to see old friends, the mere act of being in public reminds readers who you are, the panels increase your visibility, the signings and readings reconnect you with the fans and tell them I’m still writing.

But for the non veterans, for the new writers, or baby published writers like me, it can be hard. When I’ve talked about this in the past, I’ve always talked about approaching writers/editors/agents as getting over a shyness problem. But yesterday I realized it goes deeper than that. It’s our JOB to do this. Networking is part of the job, just like putting your butt in the chair is. And if you can’t do that part of your job, you might suffer.

Charlaine Harris was at the con. During a panel, my friend Kristabelle asked Harris a craft question and Harris jumped on it, delighted to talk about writing. Apparently not a lot of people ask her craft questions. “Well heck, maybe she’d like to be on ISBW,” I thought, and immediately got scared. Ask Charlaine Harris? That’s terrifying. She’s famous and important. I have little to no connection with her, I didn’t know anyone who could introduce us. I would have to essentially cold call (cold approach?) her in the middle of the con for an interview. Saturday night, I saw her having a drink with her agent at the bar, and thought, “when I finish this glass of wine I’ll be relaxed enough to ask her. And they might be done by then so I won’t have that “I’m interrupting” problem.” I forgot I was drinking on an empty stomach, and by the time the wine was gone, I was not in a professional space to approach an author I’ve never spoken to, and the next time I looked, she was gone anyway.

I could easily blame a number of things- the wine hit too hard, I should have eaten dinner, I didn’t want to interrupt her chat with her agent, blah blah. But the truth was, I was too scared to do my fucking job. And that can’t continue.

It’s not about being brave, it’s about doing the job. And I think (hope) if I approach networking and interviewing and the like with the mindset of “time make the donuts” then I might do this a little better.

(I’m sorry I didn’t score a Charlaine Harris interview for you.)

(15 days till Ghost Train to New Orleans!)

Ronin Scientist’s Advent Calendar Day 20-22

So we are now without our computer that does that magic video thing. Scientist is on the run, and all we got is an iphone and a web browser. And it didn’t work! So the video is lost for the season. BUT we got pictures for Day 21. Only those failed too. it’s a Christmas curse. I think we need the Ronin to come home.

But our housesitter is in place and we’re in Buffalo NYC, and the Ronin Scientist is discovering something scary upon arrival. The ornaments on the tree are gone!

Despite our technical difficulties, we did manage to do a live hangout today with Grant and many other advent calendar openers, and that video DID get saved. Mainly because we weren’t involved. Check it out below!

Tomorrow we use Vine.

So, Worldcon. That was cool. A bit.

I got back from WorldCon last night and spent today processing and napping.

In case you hadn’t heard, I won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer of 2012. I mean, HOLY CRAPBASKETS. I’m still stunned. As Pat Cadigan keeps saying about her Hugo, “I keep waiting to wake up.”


Jay Lake, me, and Jay’s daughter – Photo ¬© 2013 James J. Seals, all rights reserved. Reproduced with permission.

The very cool thing you’re not seeing here is we were in front of a wall of photographers, and Jay’s daughter was directing the whole thing. “OK, let’s focus left…” (wait for photos) “Now center…” (wait for photos) “Now right.” She was IN CONTROL. It was awesome. She is such an amazing young woman and Jay should be very proud.

But I’ll get to more Hugo/Campbell details in a moment.

I stopped doing con writeups years ago, as I would always worry I would forget something. I’m going to give some highlights, but if I forget someone, I’m truly sorry.

On Wednesday, I drank with Chuck Wendig because drinking in the afternoon is either sad or awesome, depending on where, why, and with whom you do it. And I figured a hotel, being at a con, and CHUCK was good enough. Later that night we got Adam Christopher and his oh so cool wife Sandra and my friends John Cmar and Laura Burns and treked down the very warm street to a pub where we ate under the scary severed head of a buffalo and I drank a tasty Hemingway cocktail.

Thursday the con started in full force, and I got to be part of Just A Minute, an English game show that Paul Cornell brings to cons. You must talk for a minute on a topic, without repetition, hesitation, or deviation. If someone catches you in this, they can challenge. It gets silly and cutthroat at times. I was in the competition with Connie Willis, Emma Newman, and Gary K. Wolfe. It was amazingly stressful and fun, and it was awesome to sit beside my idol, Connie.

I had a great autographing – there was a line of like four people at one point! That’s great for me! – and before that got to have lunch with my mentor and friend, Jim Kelly. Later that night, I was in the weird position of all of my friends were scattered, and I was wondering what to do with myself, and SFWA President Steven Gould and his wife, writer Laura Mixon, my old Viable Paradise instructors, invited me to dinner. It was great to catch up with them. I fear I didn’t call Steve “El Presidente” enough, though.

Jim got in that night. Yay husband!

Saturday night my editor, Devi, took me and Jim out to dinner, and then we hit the Drinks with Authors party late. It turned out that we missed a lot of the party, but the plus side was that the overcrowded bar group had thinned and we had a nice time. I discovered that ALL of the Campbell nominees were there, and we quickly gathered and bonded. Stina Leicht and I already knew each other from last year’s Campbell nomination, and Chuck and I knew each other from before, but I hadn’t met Max Gladstone and his awesome wife Steph yet. So we bonded and formed Team Tiara.

The other nominees are awesome people. The next day, Max, Steph, and I went shopping for tiaras to form Team Tiara for real, and we found some nice ones at the mall. We brought them to the Campbell panel, which included Ben Bova, the creator of the Campbell Award. Ben wore his tiara with good humor. (We got him an understated one, you can barely see it in the weird lighting below.)

Team Tiara! Max Gladstone, Stina Leicht, me, Chuck Wendig, and Ben Bova - Photo by Karen Bovenmeyer

Team Tiara! Max Gladstone, Stina Leicht, me, Chuck Wendig, and Ben Bova – Photo by Karen Bovenmeyer

It’s hard to compare the two years of Campbell nominations without making one sound better than the other, but the experience was better this time around. And I know that is stupid-tasting, because duh, I won, but it goes beyond that. Last year, Karen Lord didn’t make the con, E. Lily Yu (the much-deserving winner) arrived late to the convention, and I never actually met Brad Torgersen. (NOTE- I am NOT putting any of them down for this, I’m just saying this was how circumstances worked out.) This left Stina and me, and we bonded, but it felt more like a friendship (this is NOT bad, obviously, but I’m speaking of bonding as a group of new writers who have the crazy honor of being told they have amazing potential). This year, we missed Zen Cho, but everyone else were there, and we all got along great. We hung out at the before party, all sat together during the ceremonies, and exchanged much hugs after. These are amazing writers, each one, and I know Max will be on the ballot again next year.

The downsides of the con were the kaffeklatch and my reading. The kaffeklatch had only four people (one of them a friend, John Shade, a writer at Stonecoast) and was somewhat awkward. I’ve had better kaffeklatches as an unpublished writer. Weird. Then my reading, which was a clusterfuck of non-euclidian design. I thought I knew where room was, and I was wrong. No one could give me satisfactory directions, and it turned out the signing rooms were in a separate building that had about 80% of the outside doors locked. (I of course didn’t try the 20% that were open) The fans were very, very kind that they only got 15 minutes of reading, and haphazard and stressed reading at that. Mortified.

So, the Hugo awards! I was terrified I wouldn’t have enough time, as the Campbell panel was at 5 and the reception started at 6. I ran back to the room, got showered and started getting my girl on. I managed not to mess up my hair, and the only makeup problem was learning that liquid eyeliner is proof that Satan exists and he hates women. Once I got it out of my eye and threw the rest of the shit away, things were smooth sailing.

When I won, I was stunned and shaking (video, about 5 min in), and I can’t decide if being caught in a bear hug by Chris Garcia helped or hurt my composure. ūüėÄ (I’m kidding, Chris hugs are one of the best things about WorldCon.) When I got on stage, a beaming Lake child (Jay calls her The Child) held the tiara, put it on my head, and hugged me and told me it looked wonderful. I had never met her before but she was so welcoming and she looked so thrilled to give it to me I nearly teared up right there. During my speech, I managed to a) remind people that we were all winners simply by the fact that through our nominations, we’re all entered into SF history, and nothing ever changes that, b) swear on stage, by quoting Grand Master Connie Willis’s advice not to say “OH SHIT” when you lose, and c) remember to thank my family, mentors, the fans, and my listeners. Sadly, I forgot to thank my editors, namely Jeff VanderMeer, who gave me my first pro sale, and Devi Pillai, my editor at Orbit, who was texting me furiously after the ceremonies to come to the bar and get my champagne.

I meant what I said, that Zen, Stina, Max, and Chuck will be forces to watch in the next several decades. I can’t wait to see what else TEAM TIARA comes up with.

I was quite happy with the Hugo awards, including the podcast Writing Excuses for Best Related Work, never-won-a-Hugo-in-decades-of-writing Pat Cadigan for novella, and John Scalzi’s Redshirts for novel. I was super super proud of my friends Patrick Hester (ISBW producer, winning with the staff of SF Signal for fanzine) and Kate Baker (Clarkesworld podcaster, winning semi-pro zine) winning Hugos. I was so happy to see John Scalzi win for Redshirts, for two reasons: 1) the book moved me in many ways- it was a funny romp for the first part, and then the three codas moved me and made me think a lot. and 2) Funny books winning the Hugo is a Good Sign (TM) for my career.¬†The full list of winners is here.

The awards were covered by the New York Times, shockingly enough, and they mentioned me. Whoa.

At the photos after, John Scalzi whacked me in the face with his Hugo, but it was an accident and didn’t leave a mark. Got a good story, anyway. Those things are heavy.

Devi bought a lot more champagne for me than was needed, I think they were on their third bottle when I finally got to the bar. I didn’t drink that much (I know, SHOCKING) but I think i was on an adrenaline high most of the night.

The night was magical, and so so wonderful. Orbit bought a ton of champagne. I hung out with my Stonecoast friends. I was congratulated by the likes of Gail Carriger, Carrie Vaughn, Harry Turtledove, John Scalzi, and Patrick Neilsen Hayden (among many others.) And my sweetie was by my side the whole time, taking pics, giving hugs, and just in general being the best husband in the world.

Since then I’ve gotten tweets, FB messages, and emails that have made me cry with the sentiments involved. This is an overwhelming and amazing time. Paolo Bacigalupi told me that I have to take a few days to enjoy this before delving back into the pits if self loathing. I will do my best.

More pictures!



ISBW #305 – Rapid Fire, Pre-WorldCon!

It’s time for WorldCon! Helsinki bid FTW!

Watch Twitter – @mightymur – if you want to do a meetup at WorldCon! Once I get a lay of the land, I’ll set something up.

WorldCon Schedule

It’s one of my favorite times of the year again: WorldCon time! I’m heading out to San Antonio next Wednesday and am leaving on Monday. I’m posting my schedule below. It’s pretty light this year, ¬†but if you don’t catch me on a panel, be assured you can likely find me at the bar most nights. I may also set up an ISBW meetup – also, Magic Spreadsheet creator Tony Pisculli will be there, so anyone who wants to meet the mind behind the spreadsheet, he’ll be around!

I have no kaffeklatch, so if you’re interested in an ISBW meetup, let me know.

  • Just A Minute: Thursday 21:00-22:00
    Paul Cornell (M); Mur Lafferty; Emma Newman; Connie Willis and Gary K. Wolfe
    Paul Cornell brings his live game show back to WorldCon!
  • Autographing: Laura Frankos, James Patrick Kelly, Mur Lafferty, Michael Damian Thomsa: Friday 14:00 – 15:00
  • Reading: Mur Lafferty: Sunday 15:30 – 16:00
  • Click to embiggen

    Click to embiggen

    Drinks with Authors: Saturday 19:00-Late
    Not an official WorldCon event, but a party at a nearby bar with a LOT of authors. I have a dinner planned, so I won’t be there when it starts, but we’ll be dropping by after dinner once everyone is properly liquored up.
  • 40 Years of Campbell Awards: Sunday 17:00 – 18:00
    The Campbell Awards celebrate their 40th anniversary this year. Stina Leicht (M) , Ben Bova , Mur Lafferty , Chuck Wendig , Max Gladstone
  • Hugo Awards Ceremony: Sunday 20:00
    Aside from being nominated for the Campbell (yay!) I’m also liveblogging the awards at CoverItLive! More information about that when I have it.

Your Role at WorldCon – Bigger Than You Think

tl;dr: Know what you’re paying for when it comes to your WorldCon membership. Scroll to the bullet points. Read the links at the bottom.

WorldCon is two and a half weeks away. I love this con as it contains some of the best networking opportunities I’ve ever experienced, the panels are great, it’s usually smaller and less crazy than other cons (*cough*Dragon*cough*), has the Hugo Award (and Campbell Award, Not A Hugo (TM)) ceremony, and since it moves around yearly, it lets me experience new cities in the world as long as I have the fundage. (more on the “world” thing in a bit.)

WorldCon is expensive. Currently, an attending membership is $240, but it’s cheaper if you buy early. Most cons I attend will comp someone’s badge if they’re going to be on panels, but WorldCon only comps its Guests of Honor. We¬†all¬†pay to go to WorldCon. But many of us¬†do not know what that money gets us.¬†For example, I attended the business meeting for the first time last year – only because friends encouraged me to come help get a YA Hugo on the ballot. After we failed, I talked to other con attendees about my disappointment, and nearly every person – all members of the WSFS – showed confusion about this mysterious meeting that they knew nothing about. A meeting that they had every right to be part of.

Who can blame them? If we hear “business meeting” we’re thinking it involves the Important People Involved With The Con Business. Like the volunteers and the con chair and the treasurer. Not us attendees who are desperately trying to kill a hangover so we can look good for the Hugo Awards, or trying to get up the nerve to meet Elizabeth Bear.

When I found out others were as blind as I had been to all of the benefits of WorldCon membership, I figured I’d write something about it.¬†So, here are convenient bullet points:

What You Can Expect From The WorldCon Membership

  1. You are an official member of the World Science Fiction Society. Cool, huh?
  2. You get to vote for the Hugos. (And the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, which is Not A Hugo). For this year, Hugo voting is already over, but it bears mentioning.
  3. You have the right to vote for a future WorldCon location.¬†London is set for 2014, but 2015 bidders are Orlando, Spokane, and Helsinki. Voting costs extra ($40), BUT the money is considered an automatic Supporting membership to that convention, no matter where it is. For example, if you vote for Helsinki, but Orlando gets it, then you have already put $40 toward your Orlando 2015 Attending Membership, or you’ve outright purchased your Supporting Membership. So consider a site bid your down payment for the 2015 WorldCon.
    ** This year is the first time I’ve gotten involved with site selection; I voted for Helsinki because every time WorldCon leaves North America, we yank it back for a few years. That seems unfair, because it is called¬†WorldCon, right? In order, we’ve had Yokohama, Denver, Montreal, Melbourne, Reno, Chicago, San Antonio, London. Aside from being too North America-friendly, this also has a wider effect in that when North America votes on The Important Current SFF (The Hugos), it continues the the USA/Western focus of the genre, which is limiting in the short run and damaging in the long run. If it’s far away and you can’t afford to attend? Sad, but you can still have a Supporting Membership. (Supporting and Attending Membership distinctions and benefits here.)
  4. You can attend and vote in the WorldCon business meeting.¬†This is the biggie. They talk about very important things involving the WorldCon in the future, Hugo categories, site selection, and more. I’m not going to lie to you, it’s called a¬†business¬†meeting for a reason, and if you thought a business meeting with a bunch of SF geeks would be more interesting than your standard business meeting,¬†you’d be wrong. But hell, I’m willing to grow up for a few hours during the WorldCon, because this stuff is important, and my vote matters. On the¬†agenda¬†(so far) this year, we have motions to both add a new Hugo category and kill a few existing categories. There’s also a “don’t let poor people vote” motion up, but I am not sure they’re calling it that. I tend to believe that most people in my generation are eager to see the existing establishment embrace the new storytelling pioneers, and they’re not going to unless we push them. Attend the meeting. Push.
    ** I vetted this post to a friend who asked me to underline two things: that the meetings are indeed incredibly dull, and they are INCREDIBLY important. Read Seanan McGuire’s post about it. Careers can be made or broken with decisions made to create or destroy a Hugo category, and as Cheryl Morgan said, the “No Cheap Votes” motion will keep fans with lower incomes – including many fans who come from poorer countries – from having a say.
    *** I want to quote Scalzi regarding the killing of the fan Hugos here:

    For those asking ‚Äúyes, but what can¬†I¬†do?‚ÄĚ Well, if you‚Äôre attending LoneStarCon 3 this year, go to the WSFS Business Meeting (you can!) and vote it down (you can do that, too!). The dates and times of the business meeting will be available in the program when you get there. I believe the first is on Friday at 10am, but these things are fungible, so double check when you arrive. I am not personally arriving until late Friday, so if anyone who is going to that meeting wants to use this piece to bolster their argument if necessary, go right ahead. I also understand at the Friday meeting it can be punted out of further discussion, which would be nice.

    (And yes, I understand that from a certain point of view I’m just trying to use the Internet to logroll you all into voting the way I want. I am the worst person ever.)

    **** And quoting Seanan McGuire:

    Please, if you are attending this year’s Worldcon in San Antonio, Texas, join me and others at the WSFS Business Meeting to help us vote these measures down. The first will be Friday morning at 10am.

    We have the power to keep this from happening. It’s not the power of Grayskull, but I still think it’s pretty damn neat.

    Let’s keep these awards for everybody.

  5. Your involvement with next year’s WorldCon.¬†Possibly the most clever thing in the WSFS membership is the benefit to keep you interested in WorldCon, even if you can’t make it next time. If you have a Supporting or Attending membership in last year’s, this year’s, or next year’s WorldCon, you can nominate for the current Hugo and Campbell Awards. (Example, people who nominated for this year’s Hugos included Supporters/Attendees of ChiCon ’12, LoneStarCon ’13, and LonCon ’14.) So even if you’re not going to London next year, you can still have your opinion on the ballot if you Support/Attend LoneStarCon. And as I said, voting on the site selection automatically gives you a Supporting Membership, no matter where it ends up.

Cons are fun. You can drink with and meet famous authors and editors, and play dress-up and see the SFF Oscars. But a WorldCon membership allows you, whether writer, fan, editor, volunteer, agent, or con planner, to help shape the current and future landscape of WorldCon and the Hugo awards, and, in a ripple effect, SFF as a whole.

Heavy stuff. Hope to see you in San Antonio! And I REALLY hope to see you at the business meeting. We’ll sit together. Put stuff on Twitter. Let’s make our voices heard.


Stonecoast, Manic Mondays, and more

OK, there’s no more. I just like things in threes.

  • I’m heading to Stonecoast today, which means I’ll be away from social media, blogging, and podcasting for over ten days. Shambling Guide eps will go up, and I’ll try to get some completed ISBWs up.
  • Also, I recently guest hosted one of my favorite podcasts, Manic Mondays, a short funny music podcast. (It’s NSFW.) My DJ dreams continue, and Clear Channel’s THE MAN can’t stop me!
  • In two weeks I turn 40. Yikes.