Complete two blog posts for the week
Clean kitchen floor
Take out trash and compost.
Not to self: Twitter will not help you get any of these things done more quickly.
I’m trying out a new mopey British detective series, and if they main character is surprised by the twist I’ve seen coming for 40 minutes, I’m deleting it from my queue. In ep one he said he goes where the evidence leads without jumping to conclusions. If the twist comes and he does not say “I knew this was a possibility from the start,” I’m out.
Yep! The Fate books I pledged for on Kickstarter arrived, and so did my first ever author copies of one of my translated novels. The German language translation of CHILD OF FIRE turned up a mere four (?) years after selling the rights. Maybe it was only three years. Anyway, Russian, French, and I believe Polish books are still out there waiting to be mailed to me.
Okay! The jack o’lanterns are lit, making a path from the top of the stairs to my apt door. Spooky lights are lit. Dracula is on the Netflix, but it won’t load because I can’t imagine why a horror classic would be slow to load on Halloween seriously can’t imagine.
I also have a candy bowl with four Butterfingers, four Snickers, four Nestle’s Crunches, and four (meh) Milky Ways.
There is also a cold beer in the fridge, waiting for my kind attention.
I’m going to live blog the number of kids who come, what treats they take, and what costumes they have. Assuming any show up at all.
Anyway, movie’s playing. I always liked swapping out Renfield for Harker at the start of Lugosi’s Dracula. It simplifies things.
6:28: HOORAY! A tiny little girl dressed as “a rabid raccoon” selected a Crunch candy bar. One kid, at least, has come by.
7:00: No other kids have come by.
7:39: No other kids. Should I just give up? Shut out the light and stuff the candy into the freezer?
7:59: Seriously considering the freezer now.
making books reading: beautiful moi? publishing words
by Harry Connolly
Writers complain. A lot.
And really, they have reason to. Does the guy who drives the truck full of books from the warehouse to the bookstore have to hold down a day job so he can pursue his love of truck driving? That’s a nope, but the people who create the objects he’s transporting often do. Most people in publishing do not make mint, but most of them don’t live as though their job is a hobby.
For writers, most of them have to squeeze writing in between work and family duties. Then, when they’re published, they find that things completely out of their control threaten to (or do) sink their book.
Lousy covers. Delayed royalty payments. People who send nasty reviews because they want the writer to see the reviewer’s contempt. There are a million indignities to be endured and worst of them all is the strong possibility that a writer will outlive their own career.
But there are good things, too. A review by someone who gets the book. An enthusiastic bookseller. Beautiful cover art. Beautiful design. A kind word from another professional. A happy reader.
I think that anyone within a (virtual) mile of me knows that I’m running a Kickstarter. In fact, I’m writing this post on Friday night but scheduling it for Saturday morning, 12 hours before the campaign closes.
Going into this thing, I knew I would have reason to be grateful. Even if it never funded, I would be grateful to everyone who pledged and everyone who helped me put the project together. My wife was endlessly patient with that damn video shoot. My kid was enthusiastic about making art for the stretch goals (and the Tejohn Minecraft skins). And others, too, that I’m not sure I should specifically name, who looked at the preview version and told me what to cut or change.
But the response from readers has really been beyond my expectations. I could type out thank yous until my fingers fall off and it still wouldn’t seem like enough.
And you know what? This is pretty much on par with my experience as a writer. The fact that I can string together words into a narrative means that I have been the recipient of astonishing kindness, from things as simple as a word of praise to as complex as offers to replace my writing computer or attend events at a convention.
If there’s one thing about being a writer that has surprised me, it’s the tremendous amount of gratitude it has brought into my life. So thank you.
making books: a blessing of monsters internet moi? publishing
by Harry Connolly
I did an interview for HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY a Kickstarter anthology I’ve agreed to contribute to.
I’d sworn off short fiction for the next several months to focus on my longer work, but when John Joseph Adams asked me to add a story I had an idea immediately, one I absolutely have to write.
Anyway, in the interview I talk about the success my own Kickstarter has had.
Also today I posted a writeup of A KEY, AN EGG, AN UNFORTUNATE REMARK, which is an urban fantasy with a protagonist in her mid-sixties. Everyone who pledges at $12 or more will already get an ebook copy of this new book (that stretch goal has already been unlocked) but the next stretch goal will unlock a game supplement so folks can roleplay inside this setting.
Finally, the Kickstarter has broken through the $35,000 level (twice now, actually, because this is a time when people will cancel or downgrade their pledges). That’s pretty wild. Thank you for all your support.
Last session knocked off with the rescue of Walt’s daughter Ever, a girl who had her life shortened via genetic engineering. This session opened with a cut scene, in which the players saw a group of Xenari soldiers (those are the aliens who tried to commit genocide against the human race) found the body of the Xenari scientist our team interrogated and then… ahem… executed in cold blood.
In our defense, he was a big jerk.
Sadly, the alien soldiers didn’t seem all that pleased to find his corpse and the scanning devices they used promised to be quite advanced.
Action came up for the PCs with the party split. Evan (our resident mad scientist/anti-alien war hero or terrorist depending on your POV/Xenari executioner) was out of the party due to player illness. Finlay had returned and was sorting through her newly-acquired alien tech, trying to figure out what she could get for them. Walt retired to his home (which, seriously? Rich guys take out a contract on your life and you take your kid to your house?) with his daughter. Travis, for his part, had requested a meeting with his industrialist father and now found himself on a shuttle heading for an orbiting space station.
Ever began to get sick, running a high fever and experiencing quite a lot of pain. Walt shortly began to show similar symptoms, but with added nosebleeds. He called Finlay and she rushed over to help. As the two of them began to show increasingly severe symptoms, an X-Agg hit squad showed up and began shooting at them through the walls. more »
making books personal: a blessing of monsters internet King Khan moi? the boy the wife
by Harry Connolly
Lots going on here. I’m going to do a brief recap to share news and try to catch up.
1) If you’ve been waiting for my rpg game tie-in novel to be released, the publisher is selling it on their website right now. KING KHAN. If you buy the paper version, you get the digital version gratis.
2) Not an hour ago I put my wife on a bus to the airport. She’s spending three weeks back east to attend a family wedding, make some tough decisions about her late father’s artwork, and generally get some time with her siblings. There was a lot to do to get her ready and out the door, but now I’m a single parent again, so things family/house obligations are not exactly going to shrink.
3) If you missed the announcement yesterday, my Kickstarter passed the $30,000/ 300% of goal. Which is a lot of whoa and thank you and I hardly know what to do with myself.
4) If you haven’t backed but are thinking about it, one of the stretch goals is based on new backers that show up starting this week. I’ve been talking about growing my audience for a long time, so new readers are welcome
5) As a followup to number 4, my son has made some pixel art to demonstrate the progress of the stretch goals, but I need to fix it up and post it before we actually reach the goals. Time is flying by
6) I owe a ton of responses to emails and things. I’m sorry. I’ll catch up as quickly as possible.
Now, back to working on my stuff.
As a followup to last session, Our Team was stuck in an underground bunker with a dead alien. One of the players couldn’t join the game this time, so her character took off (with the alien hard drive that had been our macguffin) and we agreed to meet up with her PC later. For this session, it was Evan the mad scientist/anti-alien revolutionary, Walt the Gen-En soldier with super-powers and a shortened lifespan, and Travis the disreputable party boy and habitual liar who is pretty sure he’s a good guy now since he’s doing all the good guy stuff he’s seen on TV.
But first! Travis Roman, (high concept: Corporate heir trying to do right) had to be rejiggered before the session started. When I created him, I thought we were going to be playing a game about anti-corporate pro-democratic revolutionaries, but we’re actually caught up in an alien conspiracy. As a result, he didn’t have a lot of aspects that couple be easily compelled. So I changed the aspect “I love my family but admire their enemies” to “Must protect family from itself” (since some of my siblings are obviously In On It). The aspect “Just when I thought I was out…” was changed to “The conspiracy is everywhere!”
First order of business was for Travis to note that the slow physical collapse of the Shai’lun, which was the reason they were becoming unsuitable hosts for their parasitic masters, was remarkably similar to the slow physical collapse that Walt was experiencing. The Gen-En process that gave him duplication powers was aging him very fast, and his adopted daughter, too.
Gosh, wasn’t it a coincidence that the Shai’lun were the ones who gave him his powers? You know, those aliens who saved the human race from interstellar genocide solely so we could be the new short-lived hosts for their Shinkara masters? Why, you don’t think… The Shinkara are parasites, aren’t they? And Ex-Agg messed with Walt’s body, didn’t they?
Gee, could Walt have a Shinkara parasite in him right now? Could the parasite be even now transmitting everything we say and do to our enemies? Walt might be an unwitting traitor!
Unwitting was said several times, but no mention was made of the way Walton disrupted Travis’s interrogation of the Xenari prisoner, yelling at him, hitting him with the butt of his rifle, engaging him in a stupid shouting match, and practically taunting Evan to shoot the unarmed prisoner. At no point did Walt feel he was being accused of being an deliberate traitor, but I was prepared with assurances that it wasn’t so, along with Travis’s +3 Deceive skill and the actual dice in my hand, just in case.
Returning to Evan’s home/lab, as opposed to the warehouse lab we’d visited before–I’m beginning to suspect that everything Evan owns is a blank/lab–he ran some tests on Walt and found that there was alien DNA mixed in with his human DNA. Science! Could these be traces of the Shinkara? He didn’t appear to be actually hosting an alien parasite, though, and of course we all trusted him when he assured us he was fine. Just fine.
Travis also wondered where the real Walt was, since it was completely possible that the Gen-En soldier was just a cloned and altered copy of the original man, who could even now be sleeping in one of those big glass tubes (or decomposing in a mass grave).
Walt was so pleased by all this speculation that he immediately walked out. He rushed across the city to bring his daughter to Evan’s place to have her tested, too. She doesn’t have super powers (at the moment! Dum dum DUMMMM!) but she received the Gen-En procedure and is aging quickly. Immediate decision: Split the party! Because that’s always a good idea.
Walt takes off to get his daughter from the neighbor who looks after her while he’s out shooting people, while Travis and Evan make plans for a new safe house that Walt won’t know about. Just in case.
After parking some blocks away from his babysitter’s place (in a terrible part of town–it’s nearly dawn and people are still out on the streets, scrounging and staying warm by trash can fires) Walt makes his way down the sidewalk.
Two doors of a parked car open. One of the guys who gets out is very small and the other is so freakishly large that he almost falls off the far end of the bell curve. For humans, anyway.
Walt has an investigation stunt that allows him to put an aspect on a scene, and he rolls well. The little guy is now Payton Farraday, the Ex-Agg fixer that turned Walt and his daughter into Gen-Ens.
And he’s come to bump Walt off.
Farraday fires his machine pistol at Walt. The big guy grows even bigger, his left arm swells and changes shape, and he begins to press bullets into his the skin of his forearm… where they are absorbed into his flesh. He begins shooting at Walt, Bushwacker-style.
The big guy turns out to be an Aberrant. When the Shai’lun were making Gen-En soldiers to fight off the Xenari’s genocidal attack on the Earth, the Xenari were making Aberrants to do the same thing for their side. But while Gen-Ens look human, Aberrants are monstrously deformed. One of Walt’s aspects reflects his belief that these two types of altered humans are actually one group, and the poor pitiable Aberrants should not be shunned and mistreated the way they are. However, this guy doesn’t look like he’s about to sit down with a cup of coffee and a McMuffin to discuss it.
Walt starts making duplicates of himself as he runs straight at Farraday. The GM offers a compel: For one fate point, Travis can be paranoid enough to follow Walt and join the fight next round. Travis accepts.
Gunfire continues, causing general panic on the street and even hitting some innocent bystanders. Evan and Travis jump from Evan’s car, and join the fight. The most useful attack Travis does is mental, and he throws a can at the car then yells “Incoming grenade!” in the most believable way you can imagine.
The Aberrant dodges away from it, giving Walt only enemy to deal with. Evan takes out a weird metamorphic cube he invented–essentially a multi-tool made from semi-aware nanites–and he throws it at the Aberrant.
This turns out to be a pretty spiffy move, since the nanite tool wraps around the big guy’s forearm, digging into his flesh and jamming his creepy bone gun. Travis rushes forward, shotgun in hand, and the bodyguard gets down on the ground and surrenders.
Payton Farraday concedes the fight and gives Walt what he wants, which is information. He was hired to kill Walt by one of the Roman family, and the only cure for the Gen-En procedure is to go through the Genesis project. Or Genesis procedure. (I forgot to make a note of the name.)
Having given up the info Walt wanted, Farraday and his bodyguard vanish in a flash of light, which is a neat trick that our team should learn Real Soon Now. We hear sirens in the distance, and race to fetch Walt’s daughter since he won’t do the sensible thing and leave her safe with her babysitter and get out well ahead of the police.
FYI: cops in the post apocalyptic world are not the gentle, procedure-loving Officer Friendlies of the pre-invasion world. These guys are more likely to be yahoos with guns, and we do not want to say the words “Self-defense” to them.
After fetching Ever, Walt’s daughter, Mr. Bopples, her teddy, and Joey the babysitter who wanted to shoot us when we rushed into her place, we all piled into Evan’s car.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before, but the car Evan drives is one he built himself. It looks very much like the Homer-Simpson-designed vehicle that bankrupted Homer’s brother’s car company, if you added glowing neon racing stripes to the side. It also goes very very fast.
We take off with the cops in hot pursuit. It’s a contest! I’d thought it was strange that Evan, an alien-hating mad-scientist hunted by the law as a terrorist, used one of his +3 slots for the Drive skill, but it turns out to be surprisingly useful for a wanted criminal to be good at getting away.
With a sudden turn onto a vacant lot (and two very good rolls) we leave the cops behind and return to Evan’s house with a little girl who was not nearly as traumatized as you would expect from being waken in the wee hours by a gunfight on her street, crammed into a strange car with desperate, terrified people, pressed down on the floor of said car while her father leaned out the window and laid down suppressing fire at the pursuing vehicles while sirens where wailing everywhere, and finally dragged into Evan’s bachelor pad/terrorist cell/lab. Luckily, Travis knows how to sooth people, too, and he calms her down fairly quickly.
Walt nervously asks Evan to test her DNA, and what do you know? She’s got some alien stuff mixed in there, too. What’s more, unlike Walt, she has only two months to live. If he doesn’t find the cure for her by then, his little daughter dies.
Stakes! We got ‘em.
Travis receives a phone call from his sister. She’s concerned that one of his brothers (he has as many siblings as the plot requires) is really pissed at him, and wants him to be careful. Travis, at least, now has the name of the family member who tried to kill Walt. He asks his sister to set up a meeting with good old dad, since he’s not on speaking terms with the head of Roman Industries anymore.
Oh! And Evan finds a bit of the Aberrant’s blood on his cube, and he runs some tests on it. It turns out that, while the Gen-Ens have some alien DNA, the Aberrants are 100% terrestrial. Wildly distorted, yes, but they’re people.
Who do you pity now?
Next session we hope to have Finlay back. Travis needs to gather evidence to show his father about the Shinkara, not to mention the way Ex-Agg and some of his own family have sold out the human race to them. And we need to find a way to turn the human race from a suitable host species for these parasites into barren land where their seed can find no purchase.
Oh, and we still haven’t dropped a neutron bomb on the Ex-Agg dropship. Must get bomb.
Hey, if you’re a Fate player who’s new to my blog, you should know one of the rewards in the Kickstarter I’m running for my epic fantasy trilogy includes a Fate supplement: At the $30 level, you get all three books in multiple ebook formats (DRM-free, naturally) along with a little write up of the novel’s setting, an adventure or two, and whatever else seems pertinent to playing a Fate adventure in the setting of The Great Way. Check it out.
I answered a ton of questions, some about Ansel Zahn, some about ebooks, some about my upcoming project, and some just about writing books and telling stories. It was fun! It was also a lot of typing.
Anyway, head over there if you think someone might have asked a question that you would also be curious about.
Just click this link:
and ask me anything you want.
And it’s going to be tomorrow, the 15th.
For those who don’t know, AMA stands for Ask Me Anything. Basically, people will post questions in a dedicated thread, and I’ll answer them.
That’s it. Not complicated, but very cool. I’ll post a link tomorrow to the actual post where you can do the actual asking.
This week my wife’s workplace is shut down for their annual week of cleaning, which means that she can take kid patrol duties from me. A whole week.
I haven’t been around much lately but this means I’ll be on the internet even less as I try to get work done. My list
Finish and send short story
Finish KS video
Get KS up and running
Finish Lightning Source Registration
Start revising The Great Way
Not in order of importance, obviously.
I expect this will keep my hopping while she’s gone and while she’s here, too. Hope you guys are doing well.
The insides are even prettier, but you’ll have to buy a copy to see those. You can pre-order it now from:
Or, you can win one of the copies in that box. I’ll be holding a giveaway AFTER Stephen Blackmoore’s Khan novel comes out in August. (King Khan is a standalone sequel to his Khan of Mars.) Of course, you can order his book too: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound
In case you don’t know Stephen’s work, his debut urban fantasy novel City of Lost Things was one of Kirkus’s Best of 2012. Recommended!
making books personal: a blessing of monsters i look bad moi? progress the wife
by Harry Connolly
It was just Monday that I blogged about how grateful I am that folks are supporting me in the Clarion West writeathon and that I was taking those pledges seriously and hoping to get a lot done.
Then, later that day, I broke a tooth in a big way.
Tuesday, I discovered that I could not get in with my dentist that day.
Wednesday, I learned that I will probably need a root canal that I can’t afford.
Today, my wife found out that a very old friend of hers passed away. She’s processing it as best she can and I’m trying to stay close in case she needs support.
Guys, this week sucks. As soon as we can put this one in our rear-view mirror, lets.
On top of that, I realized too late that progress on the book had grown sluggish because my subconscious was telling me that I’d made a structural mistake. The book felt flat and I couldn’t keep pushing through it any more. This realization felt almost Strossian.
So, it’s late in the day but I’m going to go back and redo those pages in the proper way, and hopefully they will help to build the climax the way it’s meant to be done.
Week’s not over! It’s possible that tomorrow will be non-shitty. Let’s hope so.
Based on the search strings I’m seeing from people searching for my site, I should make it easy on folks to find out this piece of information:
I’m not going to SDCC this year.
What’s more, I’m not planning to attend ever again. I’ve tried a convention or two and I mostly didn’t enjoy them, so I decided some time ago that I wasn’t going to go. Maybe if I’d started at 15 or something, it would be different. Now I’m an old guy and I just don’t have the interest.
Sorry. I know this is the sort of thing some readers expect, but it’s not the right thing for me.
People who have been reading me for a while (and who have good memories) know that I celebrate my not-birthday today. Since my wife and I have the same birthday, and since sharing the day with your spouse sucks, I moved mine.
And hey, at the bottom of this post I’m going to ask you for a present.
My wife will be at work most of the day, but the plan is:
Write in the morning.
See Man of Steel (which no one else in the fam wants to see).
Come home and play a video game, if you can fucking believe it (alternately: write some more).
Delivery Indian food for dinner.
Giant fruit salad instead of cake. (We are not people of the cake.)
Best part: no nasty melon in the fruit salad. Everyone puts melon or cantelope or something in fruit salad, and it always ruins it. We’ll have cherries, apple, pear, nectarines, and some other fruits that are not on the reactive list. So incredibly good. I can’t wait.
From you, good reader, I will ask for a birthday present. As you know (professor) I’m going to be Kickstartering and self-publishing my latest book. I would ask you knowledgeable folk to post three or fewer links to the most instructive blog posts and articles that you know about the process.
If you don’t know of any good Kickstarter articles, no worries.
I’ll turn on comments on my main blog for this. Hopefully, the spam won’t be too overwhelming. Not working. Reader, I sigh. You can also comment on my LiveJournal, on Twitter, on Facebook, or any of my social media.
Have a great day, you guys. I plan to.
The thing about being in a family is, you get assigned a role within the family. They decide you’re a certain kind of person and, for the most part, treat you that way for most of your life. Growing up, I was the lazy kid who always made as little effort as possible just to get by. Even when I was a grown man, getting up at 2 am to write before I went to a 5 am dayjob shift, I still believed that’s who I was.
Anyway, we have family roles in our home, too. For instance, my wife is the one who Won’t Throw Anything Away. We live with a lot of clutter. I’ve always told myself that, if it were up to me, I would pitch out a great dumpster full of stuff so we would have more room. Can’t do that, though, because my wife collects blue glass bottles that she will Do Something With Someday, and jars of stones that she collected on a trip somewhere, which reminds her of the people and that time.
And it’s a touchy subject. From her perspective, we have a lot of useful things that could be kept neatly if we could just put them away. From mine, there’s no way I could know where everything goes and it would be like a wizard’s medicinal shop around here, with a thousand little drawers and shelves and boxes and cabinets. My failing is that I’m good at cleaning but terrible at creating order out of chaos. If it’s not simple, I can’t deal.
So imagine my surprise last Friday when my wife just went nuts on the kitchen, digging out all the old equipment that we never use and will never use, so she can donate it.
The result: our kitchen is much nicer than it was. Other result, I had a mild hoarder’s reaction to seeing all my old cooking stuff in plastic bags marked “BLIND”. The insulated cookie sheets that are genuinely awesome (but we don’t bake anymore). The potato cutter that never really worked. The plastic mandolin that’s just too fragile. That old pan! I used to cook with that pan all the time! And… this thing? What is it? It might be useful if I figured out what it’s for.
Essentially, the family role that I’d imagined for myself was taken by my wife, and I found myself fighting the same urge to hold on to possessions that I’d always attributed to her.
If she’s ready to let go of things, I think it’s great and I support her. I certainly don’t want to undermine the work she’s doing. I just have to guard against playing her “role” now that she’s letting go of it.
making books personal: a blessing of monsters moi? progress
by Harry Connolly
My agent just confirmed that she received the new version of THE WAY INTO CHAOS. That’s just the first part of a long-ass story that’s not even finished, but I have post-project blues anyway. Christ.