The Dread Award Eligibility Post!

hugo_award_logoI made stuff in 2016! I’m going to tell you about it!

My Season 2 Bookburners novelette was Debtor’s Prison, published in July.

I wrote the short story “Voice of the Empire” for Star Wars Insider magazine that came out December 27, just under the wire.

Regarding the Hugos, my podcasts I Should Be Writing and Ditch Diggers (with co-host Matt Wallace) are both eligible for fancast this year, and we would love your consideration.

The magazine I edit, Mothership Zeta, is eligible for best semiprozine, which makes me eligible for best editor (Short).

I think that’s all I’m eligible for; last year was a lot of work on stuff that hasn’t seen the light of day (yet). For example, my novel SIX WAKES didn’t make it out in time to be a 2016 book, but you can get it this month (make it safe and preorder now!) and then consider it for next year.

Ditch Diggers #34: End of Year Special with Kameron Hurley

We are joined by ugly Christmas sweaters, booze, and Kameron Hurley. Happy New Year! Fuck you, 2016!

Until Matt gets the show notes done, I think the only thing we have to say about the end of the year was said best by Lalo Alcaraz:

Cartoon by Lalo Alcaraz


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Tea Party with Failure – You’re Invited!


I am afraid a lot. I cover this frequently in my podcast, and yet the feeling never leaves.

I was doing a lot of thinking in December, and that’s when I heard the story about Inviting Mara to Tea. You can read the story in the link there, but essentially it’s a story of the Buddha who was being stalked by a demon of chaos that he had recently defeated. His aids would alert him to the demon lurking, and the Buddha would invite the demon in for tea. It’s a basic “face your fears” story. With tea and biscuits.

I fear failure. I don’t blog regularly partly because I’m afraid I have nothing to say, but I’m also afraid if I do have something to say it will fall flat, or resonate with no one, or no one will care, or I will miss the mark entirely of what I’m trying to say. In essence, I’m afraid it will fail. (Strangely, podcasting doesn’t fall into this realm because I have to work to listen to something I’ve recorded while the blog post is RIGHT THERE. Brains are weird. Shrug.)

After thinking a bit on this Buddha story, I also thought about all the things I used to do before I feared failure. Back in the early days of podcasting, I feared very little because I had succeeded in nothing. A little bit of success and suddenly I was introduced to something that could be taken from me, and I was afraid to try again.

I stopped making whatever idea came to mind. That’s a damn shame.

In 2016, I want to make weird shit again. I want to come up with crazy ideas and just do them. I want to write the stuff in my head that makes people look at me funny when I tell them the concept. I want to write more Shambling Guides. I want to do a video series. I want to do another audio drama. I don’t do these things because I am afraid of failure.

But I try to think about what Ze Frank said in my favorite video of his from July 11, 2006 (which mysteriously seems to be missing from the Internet, if anyone can find it I would be grateful! Full transcript is here, at least.) He was asked if he ever worried about running out of ideas.

I run out of ideas every day! Each day I live in mortal fear that I’ve used up the last idea that’ll ever come to me. If you don’t wanna run out of ideas the best thing to do is not to execute them. You can tell yourself that you don’t have the time or resources to do ’em right. Then they stay around in your head like brain crack. No matter how bad things get, at least you have those good ideas that you’ll get to later.
Some people get addicted to that brain crack. And the longer they wait, the more they convince themselves of how perfectly that idea should be executed. And they imagine it on a beautiful platter with glitter and rose petals. And everyone’s clapping for them. But the bummer is most ideas kinda suck when you do ’em. And no matter how much you plan you still have to do something for the first time. And you’re almost guaranteed the first time you do something it’ll blow. But somebody who does something bad three times still has three times the experience of that other person who’s still dreaming of all the applause. When I get an idea, even a bad one, I try to get it out into the world as fast as possible, ’cause I certainly don’t want to be addicted to brain crack.

To avoid being addicted to brain crack, in 2016 I’m going to face failure. I’m inviting it to tea. In fact, 2016 is going to be an entire year of tea parties, welcoming failure to come and have a sit down. The above graphic will go along with whatever stuff I come up with this year. I’m not denying failure. I’m not avoiding it. I want to talk to it, and get to know it, and share a cup of tea.

Won’t you join us?

Ah, Failure, my old friend. Earl Grey or are we avoiding caffeine this week? I just got a lovely mild green from Adagio. Would you like to try it?


Happy New Year! Preamble message: Get Bored

Neil Gaiman talked about this a few years ago when he took a social media vacation for six months to get bored so his brain would start working hard on some stories. I thought it was an interesting, if terrible, idea. (Terrible in the terms of “oh god I could never do that.”)

In Fallout Shelter: this is what happens when raiders attack and you’re pregnant and cutting a ham.

I took a major social media break in September and didn’t fully come back. I’m happier this way. But I have another drain on my time: iPhone games. Namely Neko Atsume, This War of Mine, and Fallout Shelter. (Heck, Fallout Shelter gave me my Twitter avatar.*) After realizing I had slid back into “gee I wish I would write something neat,” instead of, you know, doing my fucking job and writing something neat, I realized that when I encountered something that was dull to my brain, like car trips or waiting in line, I would fill it with a game. And those times are vital to my brain’s subconscious to do some freaking work.

How many times have you gotten an idea while in the shower? Cleaning? Driving? Doing something that forced you to give it attention, but only enough attention to do some unthinking labor so that your mind was free to go wandering? I have been robbing my brain of that time when it comes up and I don’t need to focus: someone else is driving, or hanging out with family in front of the TV**, waiting for water to boil. OH GOD SOMEONE HAS BEEN IN THE WASTELAND TOO LONG BRING THEM HOME BEFORE THEY ENCOUNTER ANOTHER DEATHCLAW.

I understand my brain. It wants to fill the spaces that I typically can use for the evil thoughts. The “you suck” thoughts. For example, instead of brilliant ideas I could think about every mistake I’ve ever made. (This happened while driving through rural NC at night in the rain recently. Fun fun.) Dopamine hits from seeing what cats have visited or finding a weapon in This War of Mine are much more fun than “remember that thing you did thousands of days ago that you’re long past? Yeah that was stupid, wasn’t it?”

But despite that downward spiral of self loathing that is, sadly, sometimes inevitable in non-sociopaths, giving your brain some time off makes it stomp around yelling, “MOM, I’m BOOOOORED” and then you patiently tell you brain, “Find something to do, dear,” and then you brain pouts a bit, and then unearths its old doll house and reenacts Hamlet with its dolls, and then writes HAMLET TWO: THE NUNNERY GETTING TO because your brain doesn’t know what a nunnery is in the terms of Hamlet and you don’t want to tell them because you’re so delighted that they did something creative.

There are other reasons why I am holding back, and I’ll work them out in a later blog post. But for now I’m tackling the thing that’s easiest AND hardest to fix: deleting the games from the ipad and iphone. Deleting the games is easy. Keeping them off is the hard part. Wish me luck. And consider letting you brain get bored sometime this year too. You may be surprised with what you come up with.

* I’ll probably keep the Twitter avatar. It just makes me so happy.
** OK, so sitting in front of the TV isn’t the best for the brain working on ideas either, but you know what I mean, dammit.