Leave George R. R. Martin Alone!

Oh God, really??

Leave George R. R. Martin Alone!

I guess the Harvey Dent was right: You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain. Some people are maniacs online. I read how angry fans are trashing George RR Martin’s release schedule, and it left me spitting with anger. Then I sat on this blog post for over a month. Life is too short to get into petty squabbles, I said. Now I’m reading this … ‘Game of Thrones has lost its way.’

You people (I’m speaking to the fans that can’t enjoy a show or a book without turning into armchair pundits) need your head examined. I’ve met GRRM and he’s a sweet guy. He doesn’t deserve this.

Leave George R. R. Martin Alone!

Here’s the thing: We’re all trying to make it as authors here. Is this is all we have to look forward to if we’re lucky enough to achieve his level of success? We’re conditioned to spend our lives trying to tap into the id of our readers, understand them and write stories they love. George R.R. Martin did that. Now you’re turning on him? Are you crazy??

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Snark Has Always Existed

I was just reading this interesting story about a high-schooler in 1963 who sent a survey to 150 well-known authors of literary, commercial, and science fiction. The story is worth a read unto itself, but my takeaway comes from Ayn Rand’s response to the boy, enshrined in the picture on the right.

“This is not a definition, it is not true,” Ms. Rand says, “and, therefore, your questions do not make sense.” Using a classic ‘forest for the trees’ argument, she derails the discussion and dismisses the topic. We’ll never know how she feels about symbolism in fiction, but we do know that she was as ethically egoist in real life as she was in Atlas Shrugged.

Ayn Rand’s response reminds me of the million-or-so arguments discussions I’ve had on the Internet. If you don’t want to hammer the facts, hammer the law, as they say. It sucks, because someone who isn’t invested in the outcome can torpedo your search for truth at almost any time. Yet, that’s the truth that faces any one of us who attempt the Bard’s life. It was true back in 1963, and it’s true now.

Dark Deco and Neo-Noir for Kids – Batman: The Animated Series

Just found out that my Comic-Con submission for the 2018 Souvenir Book wasn’t accepted. Stings a little, but onto the next … always. Meanwhile, you might get a kick out of it. They asked for articles on Batman: The Animated Series. I loved that show as a kid and I still do. Ended up writing an 1100-word love letter to the Dark Knight. Hope you enjoy it:

 

Dark Deco and Neo-Noir for Kids – Batman: The Animated Series at Twenty-Five

Lights down, TV sound up. It was four o’clock in the afternoon, and Batman: The Animated Series was on. Time stopped during those thirty minutes. After years of Hanna-Barbera animation and toy shows like G.I. Joe and the Transformers here was an honestly *good* TV show coming at us every weekday afternoon.

Batman: The Animated Series was launched in the fall of 1992 and ran until I graduated high school. Other cartoon series’ were exciting – you can’t help but celebrate the fourth-wall breaks that happened in TMNT – but B:TAS was different. It was special. I watched every one of the eighty-five episodes like my life depended on it. The Dark Knight had been rebooted in a unique way. New characters like Harley Quinn took their place among classic villains and the famous film actors who provided their voices. Neo-noir ‘dark deco’ art blended without seam with the slightly futuristic technology that Batman used in fighting crime.

It’s not surprising that we still talk about Batman: The Animated Series two-and-a-half decades later. As teens and  tweens, we not only loved the show, we crossed the threshold into a strange new world. Here was a new series to fall in love with, and we did. We quoted it to each other; we plumbed the depths of the DC comic canon to which we had been exposed. We watched afternoon programming raise its bar, as Batman: TAS redefined what a kid’s cartoon show was supposed to be. Continue reading

Today a Shark Tweeted Me

As a goof, I decided to ask @HelentheShark a question and to my surprise, she answered! Please see below for examples of hilarity ensuing:

You might be wondering what this has to do with being a sci-fi author and the answer is, ‘it doesn’t.’ Sometimes you just have to enjoy the ride.

State of the Art – 07/25/2017

Haven’t written one of these in a while. It makes sense to only talk about the author work when I have something interesting to share; who wants to hear ‘cranking on this’ or ‘tweeting about that’ every single week? Here’s what’s happening right now:

Mesh

Getting some semi-positive responses on my query letters for Mesh. One email read ‘really liked your pacing and tension in this opening scene as well as the world you are hinting at and I wouldn’t mind reading a bit more to see if it holds up. Would you mind sending me a complete 1-2 page synopsis and the first 50 pages when you have a chance?’

For an unknown author, messages like this are manna from heaven. I sent off my synopsis and the first fifty pages – can’t wait to see what happens next.

Short Stories

Analong passed on The Battle of Victoria Crater and I just submitted it to Clarkesworld. One thing I like about Clarkesworld is that, even though they haven’t purchased anything I’ve submitted, I can expect a response in days, instead of weeks or months like other magazines. Plus, if you get rejected, your note comes in an email from Neil Clarke himself. Can’t help but respect their professionalism and respect for unknowns like me.

Social Media

Part of the job is about building my audience. As I’ve said before, it’s a process that takes time and care. So with that in mind, here’s what has been going on for me:

That’s it for right now. I’m still grinding away at my dream. Tell me about yours! 🙂

I Can’t Save the World

Bear with me, I’m a little messed up tonight.

I don’t spend time with many people, but I do hang out with one guy. My downstairs neighbor is a decent person who copes with problems you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. He’s middle-aged, he’s got muscular dystrophy and he ekes out an existence on government disability, because if he tried to work full-time, the insurance premiums would kill him. I like Al. Despite the bad times, he’s usually got a smile on his face and he helps me maintain perspective on my mental and emotional garbage.

Now, why this messed me up is pretty simple. Al has a nephew, Jason. Friendly kid, maybe eleven or twelve. Reminds me a lot of me before the monsters closed in. Al asks if I can help help him take Jason to the park. Getting around on that monster motorized scooter is tough for him, especially on the moss-covered concrete of Monroe Park. I popped an extra pill and said yes. I don’t like getting out but if Al can find a way to face the universe, then so can I.

Custom van to fit the wheelchair. Windows down so that Jason doesn’t get carsick. I ride in the back, getting a crash course in what it means to be disabled in America through drips and drabs of conversation. On the flip side, Jason is happy to be outside. Uncle Al can’t get around very much. Jason asks if I’ve ever seen Los Angeles. I resist the impulse to tell him stories about growing up on the Disney lot.

Al’s wheelchair forces him to remain at the perimeter of the playground, so I play zone defense while the kid goes nuts on the monkey bars. He starts telling me about his life and just like Al, I get a crash-course in what it means to live as a sheltered kid in rural Wisconsin with a bi-polar mom. Bullied at school. Teenage brother and sister beat on him for fun. No video games and no Internet. He’s the kid that gets sheltered to death because his older siblings ran wild.

He doesn’t see it, but I do. The shy smile, grateful for every nice thing anyone does for him. I remember that moment. The bright-eyed time in your life when you still believe everything will eventually be okay. Wavering showers of hope that fade when you come to the bitter conclusion that the world hates you, and then you start hating it back. I can see the this kid’s miserable childhood laid out before him like a faded Texaco roadmap. Does this happen to anyone else? I’ve never wanted to fix someone’s life for them so bad in my life. Knowing that I have no right or place or ability to do anything is killing me inside.

I know what my therapist will say about all this. He says I shouldn’t make someone else’s life about me. It’s a throwback, he’ll explain, to me being a damaged kid, and wishing that someone saved me. Now I’m older and I don’t want anyone to go through what I experienced. I know it’s an arrogant thought, making this kid’s world about me, but that’s why I’m getting it out on virtual paper, where I can look at it. Part of my journey is about me dealing with my thoughts: good, bad, or ugly.

No, I can’t save the world. All I can do is write stories for people. Hopefully those stories will find the people like me. Looking for answers, carving meaning out of misery, distilling the pain into art. Other people are, too. Maybe if we can find the answers, maybe we can make the bad things stop. Then I could sleep. I could feel like it was worth it.

But it’s not enough.

 

New Free Short Story – Superhero Shrink: Climate Change

I’m pleased to say that Dr. Christopher is back in a new short story that follows up our favorite superhero mental health professional. I needed a break from polishing Mesh, and decided to knock out this four-thousand-word short that continues the adventures of one very special psychiatrist, and his incredibly damaged patients. This time, Doctor Christopher has a new set of patients and a new set of problems. How will the superhero wars affect our global climate? No one is quite sure, but everyone knows that Dr. Christopher is caught in the middle.

Should Authors Do a Patreon?

I’m posting this because I’ve been told on more than one occasion that I should consider doing a Patreon to fund my writing. You may not understand what a Patreon is, so let me bring you up to speed. According to Wikipedia, Patreon is ‘an American Internet-based membership platform that provides business tools for creators to run a subscription content service, as well as ways for artists to build relationships and provide exclusive experiences to their subscribers, or “patrons.”‘

In other words, if you like a particular artist and you want to help encourage them to make more art, you’ll sign up to fund their work, either once or on a recurring basis. Sounds good on paper, and yet … that’s not how art works. I’ve never been completely on board with Patreon, anyway. Something never sat right with me about the process. After all, if Steve Jobs is right, and real artists ship, then we need to finish the product and ship it. I followed my gut and backed away from doing a Patreon, and now it turns out I made the right choice.

If you read through this Reddit post, you’ll understand why Patreon is a bad idea for authors. It’s not that Patreon is bad, the math of the Internet is against us. You can’t produce quality writing if you’re writing on a model that only works for viral video-makers and other like-minded individuals. Viral video-makers are people like PewDiePie … is that who you saw yourself being when you started writing?

So in summary, skip the Patreon. Your money comes from selling, and shipping, your work. Real artists ship.

 

Yes We Can – Madeline L’Engle – ‘A Wrinkle in Time’

Just read this post regarding Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, and thought ‘this is me. This is us.’ I can’t think of a better case for perseverance on the part of brave new authors than Wrinkle in Time, since it took so many attempts and so much time in order to bring the story to life.

It’s no secret that science fiction is the community of the underloved, and underknown. Frequently, it’s also a community filled with hostility and suspicion, and I think the reason why is simple. When you take a bunch of people who have been marginalized their whole lives, who have through science fiction experienced this a-ha moment of ‘this is where I belong, this is my spot in the universe,’ you also get people who are afraid that by opening doors for others they will be shutting doors for themselves.

These are the people that Madeline L’Engle had to make peace with, and be accepted by, when she wrote ‘A Wrinkle in Time.’ That’s our job, as authors, too. We must overcome, with love, the same small-minded arguments against the universes we create. We must persevere through what the movie ‘Angus’ called ‘The Bathune Theory.’

We must be different, we must deal with the outside pressure to conform, but we must remain true to ourselves. In that perseverance, we have faith that like Madeline L’Engle, our dreams will eventually be accepted by the community. It’s a scary exercise, looking down the dark tunnel and imagining there will eventually be a light, but that’s our journey. ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ made it out of the tunnel successfully, and we can, too.