Friday, September 25, 2015


The art is percolating. I am excited.

At the same time, I’m working on the sequel (needs more action!) (that’s kind of my mantra while writing). And I’m wrestling with the ending of a short story.

And I’m reading. Here’s what I’ve been reading lately.

NeuroTribes.  I’m enjoying it. It’s a nonfiction book about autism and Asperger’s and the related spectrum of cognition. I’m tempted to nominate it for a Related Work Hugo, because autism is definitely related to science fiction, and I saw plenty of evidence of neurodiversity awareness at Worldcon so I gather it’s a subject of interest. 

While some people might argue that all nerds belong on the autistic spectrum, you could definitely say that all sociable nerds probably know someone on the autistic spectrum, through gaming or fandom or science fiction conventions or special interest groups. Science fiction especially likes to think about how different kinds of brains experience the world, as in stories like Flowers for Algernon

God Stalk was recommended so many times on File 770 that it became a running joke, so I bought it. I was 70% through when I gave up. Catlike girl with amnesia, rogue’s guild, kind of an internal-mystery plot as the clueless initially-clueless protagonist figures out why she’s in the story.  Somehow it didn’t mesh very well with my cognitive architecture, but it was very well written. 

An E. Nesbit anthology.  Oh, jolly! So cozy and British and magical. Somehow I never noticed the socialism as much when I read these as a child, and now it kind of makes me laugh, what with all of the sad/rabid puppies people finding overbearing socialism behind every shrub. Nesbit’s Railway Children rescue a poor persecuted Russian communist refugee at one point while the author hops primly onto her soapbox for a political interlude, then it’s back to the trainspotting action.

I guess I really don’t mind when novelists get on a soapbox from time to time, as long as they get back to the action rather than tediously belaboring their point.  I can even handle it if I don’t agree with their particular soapbox, such as the whole issue with Susan and Narnia, or all that ammosexual stuff in the Monster Hunter books, or the appalling sexism and racism of Harry Flashman. When they start building barricades out of soapboxes, I take offense. 

I also read several books I didn’t like enough to write about. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.  

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

I’m Going To Self-Publish

I was pretty close to my decision when John Scalzi’s blogran a Big Idea by Cindy Pon, and she said:

When I was pitching my debut novel, Silver Phoenix in 2008, one of the first editors I met at a local conference read twelve pages and said two things that stuck with me. First: This reads like Crouching, Tiger crossed with The Joy Luck Club. Why is it fantasy? Second: Asian fantasy doesn’t sell.

This year’s Hugo for Best Novel has plenty of Asian fantasy in it, if I recall correctly.  I even remember writing that I’d love to read more Asian fantasy, but oh well, I can’t, because it doesn’t sell.  This makes me wonder about all the other books out there that wouldn’t sell.  I’ll bet some of them are really good.

It also nudged me right over the indecision line, and I have just commissioned the most awesome book cover in the world from an astoundingly talented artist.  

Monday, September 7, 2015

To Self Pub or Not To Self Pub

Ever since Worldcon, I’ve been wondering whether I should self-publish my novel.

I even thought about some pros and cons.

Reasons Not to Self Pub
Lack of respect from the traditionally-published.  Although they already probably don't respect me since I'm non-published, so there's not really anything to lose.
I am totally inexperienced at this. Of course, I'm totally inexperienced at writing novels in general.
I suck at self-promotion. Hence this blog: my feeble homegrown attempt to stake out a presence. 

Reasons to Self Pub
The Martian did it.
In fact, lots of people do it, even successful ones.
No book tours, press releases, airports or other unnerving manifestations of publicity. 
Traditional publishing seems to be enmired in a culture war, judging from the Puppy Incident, and I’m not partisan enough to appeal to either side.
In fact, I’ve probably already got enemies due to my lack of partisan fervor. After all, I voted for a couple of puppies, and I no-awarded other puppies, thus nuking all kinds of fanbases before even getting out of the gate.
And finally, if I am self-pubbed, I have Complete. Creative. Control.

Which leads to the Great Big Colossal Elephant in the Room Reason to Self Pub:

My work is weird. I don’t have a fanbase yet, and I’m not even sure anybody will want to read this stuff.
  • It’s non-dystopian, which could lead to accusations of not taking gloom and apocalypse seriously. 
  • It’s YA, which could lead to accusations of warping young minds.
  • It veers away from the expected tropes in that it's sci fi without space, or aliens, or an all encompassing fascist government and not a whole lot of robots. It's got some deoxygenated oceans and all kinds of bioengineered weirdness, but it's not a space opera.  
  • It straddles the puppy war, with a diverse cast having wholesome adventures.
  • It goes on for thousands of words. This may or may not be a good thing.
  • It’s about as plot-driven as I could make it, just to spite the guardians of good taste.
  • Something for everyone – and something to piss everyone off, too.

I have these fears that a big fancy publishing house will seduce me with the alluring lure of Real Authordom until I start signing things, and discover it’s a trap. And I will be expected to do silly things in the name of marketing, and make pleasant small chat, and visit airports, and write the kind of things where I feel like I have lead weights glued to my fingers. 

Maybe they will also say things like, “Say, your protagonist is a very nice youth, but could you maybe make him a sparkly vampunicorn, because marketing is projecting those will trend in the third quarter? And also, could you do something about those long run-on sentences and those occasional stealth Tom Swifties?”

And I just couldn’t.

I found a very nice cover artist on the interwebs and right now I’m trying to get up the nerve to just email him and just do it.  

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Oh, The Huge Manatee

An appropriate illustration for that last story popped up in my Facebook feed so I figured I might as well share it.