So much to tell!
First and Foremost: GOOD INTENTIONS and NATURAL CONSEQUENCES are now available through Audible.com! Once again, the narrator is Tess Irondale, who did such a great job with DAYS OF HIGH ADVENTURE not too long ago. This has been in the works for a while, and it all hit on Wednesday as I jetted off to Spokane for WorldCon. Given all that, I’ll admit that I’m only through Chapter Six just now on GI, but I’m 100% happy with everything I’ve heard so far and I’m on board for the rest.
Also, before I move on to WorldCon, I’ll answer the most common question I keep getting: sadly, I still don’t have an actual release date for the next books, but I am working on them. To give you the full straight answer, I’m very close to finishing the rough draft for Well That Escalated Quickly: The Tanner Malone Story, Book Three. By “very close,” I mean hopefully this week. The thing is, even with the rough done, I need to do a pass or three (or more) of revisions, then share it with my trusty squad of beta readers who will tell me if I’m being dumb, and then I submit it to my editor at Skyscape. That’s going to be an exciting moment for me: I actually have an editor. Pretty much everything I’ve done so far has been indie-publishing! Regardless, the work is well underway, the biggest portion of it is almost done, and I plan to post at least the first scene or two here on my blog as soon as I’m sure I’m happy with it. And if you’re wondering why I so rarely post here, it’s to keep my focus on writing rather than blogging…which aren’t the same.
(Except they totally are. Depending. Whatever.)
Given those timelines, there’s a chance I’ll put out something small for the Good Intentions line in the next couple of months. I’d hate for 2015 to go by without releasing some new material. That line is still an indie publishing title, so there’s no concern about anyone’s publishing queue, and most of the stuff I’m considering is already finished. Again, it’s a bit of a juggle between my two lines of writing; sci-fi still has the priority right now, but if it looks like I can do a bit of GI without causing any delay on that side, I’ll do it.
So. Yeah. About that WorldCon/Sasquan business.
Spokane was great — yes, I’m ignoring the Seattle imperative of making fun of the other side of the state — and we had a really good time. I say that although Spokane was incredibly smoky throughout much of the con due to all the awful wildfires burning throughout the state. You know what it’s like when you stand next to a campfire and the smoke decides to follow you around no matter where you stand? Friday was like that everywhere we went outside. I’m only two steps removed from some folks who were under a level 1 evacuation notice while we were in town, and it’s not hard to find coverage of just how bad the fires have been for others. So while I took the smoke in stride, it was a constant reminder that this is a very rough time for a lot of people.
I’m not sure there’s really a graceful segue out of that into con shenanigans, but that in and of itself captures some of how I felt all weekend: Half the state is burning, but we’re all out here and we’re not firefighters, so let’s do our best to carry on, huh?
I’d never been to a WorldCon before, and really it was only because the con was so close this year that I could manage it. Now that I’ve done it, though, I’m giving serious thought to Kansas City for 2016, because the panels alone at Sasquan were above and beyond the usual fare at other conventions. Norwescon, for instance, usually offers a great deal of awesome stuff, but Sasquan raised the bar for consistency alone. Rather than recap, though, I’ll just say this: I could listen to Ken Liu, Kate Elliott, and/or Professor Ajani Brown all day. I went to other panels for stuff on YA blogging, video games and Lee Moyer‘s painfully hilarious Bad Book Covers panel. But Brown’s presentation on AfroFuturism and Liu’s input during the panel on Chinese myths & traditions (among other great panelists all around) were incredibly thought-provoking.
Another wonderful part of my weekend came directly from my publishers: 47 North, Amazon’s sci-fi and fantasy imprint, was kind enough to invite me along to represent for Skyscape and take part in a book giveaway that was entirely too much fun. We were in a ballroom in the hotel adjacent to the convention center, and before our doors opened, I worried that nobody would come–or worse, that I’d be the one dude whose books nobody picked up– I’m happy to say we got straight-up mobbed and it was awesome. I had all of one copy of Poor Man’s Fight left at the end of the event, and even that one found a new home before I made it back to my hotel room.
I also got to hang out with Annie Bellet a bit. I met her at Norwescon, picked up the first part of her urban fantasy series and immediately felt like I had found One Of My People. Dear readers, if you liked Days of High Adventure, go pick up Justice Calling RIGHT NOW. It’s FREE. It’s your kind of book.
The big news of Sasquan, of course, is this year’s Hugos. It’s hard to know exactly what to say here for two reasons: first, because so much has already been written by much more studied people than I, and second, because I usually avoid awards stuff. The truth is I had no idea how the Hugos were even decided or where they got awarded before the nominations hit last April and the Sad/Rabid/Whiny (yes, I’m going there) Puppies thing made plenty of news. Awards aren’t on my radar at all; that’s for Other Writers who are way more proficient and established and whatever. Yet while I may have little interest (unless you’re giving one to me or somebody I know…?), I have pretty strong emotions about the vehement defense of the Straight White Dude Status Quo.
And here’s the thing: I am a Straight White Dude. That status quo benefits me. It has benefited me all my life. I don’t feel good about it. I don’t want to give it up, mind you–I want everyone else to have the same benefits. It drives me absolutely insane to know that so many others can’t count on basic social standards and rights that I get to take for granted.
See how I did it just now? “Basic?” That shit isn’t “basic” at all. It should be basic, because it should apply to everybody. I’ve thought more than once about how many people would look at my work with much more skepticism if I was an Ellen Kay rather than an Elliott, or if my name didn’t sound so obviously Anglo-American. I’d like to believe things would be the same. Anyone who reads even one of my books can probably guess how I feel about feminism and equality. But those kinds of biases are damn sneaky things. They’re like ninjas. They wreck shit and you never even realize they were there.
Anyway, by the time the Hugos actually rolled around this weekend, I was ready to fall over in my hotel bed. I went to the back-up site rather than getting a ticket, arriving in time to hear Robert Silverberg’s moving and hysterical callback to previous contentious WorldCons. I stuck around only long enough to cheer when Julie Dillon picked up her second well-deserved Hugo. (By the way: that awesome pic of Admiral Yeoh she painted for me is still there on my previous post, if you haven’t seen it yet…) I had strong feelings about the graphic novel category, too, ’cause asking me to choose between Ms. Marvel and Rat Queens is maybe the most brutal comics-oriented choice ever, but I’m so glad that G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel won. Those were the only two categories on which I had serious feelings. Once I heard those awards, I headed back to my room.
See, by then I had heard all I needed to hear: rejection of the SP slate. Calls for inclusion rather than exclusion. Black Lives Matter. Wesley Chu announcing his candidacy. Sasquan reacted to the SP slate the way they needed to. The only real sad thing here is that it had to be done at all at the expense of so many great creators who didn’t make it onto the ballot at all because of this whole stunt.
I have heard, of late, that there’s a relatively legitimate concern about classism at the core of the SP complaints. If that’s the case, then okay–a discussion about classism is totally fair. Only I didn’t hear or see that. I saw lots of misogyny and racism instead, followed by the instigators of all this going full Baghdad Bob and declaring victory amid the ashes of their defeat.
When the nominees were announced, I was at Norwescon and I was around people who could explain the whole thing to me. My immediate thought was, “Wow, if that happened to me, I’d have to pull out with a noisy blog post and a lot of profanity,” but that’s a damn easy thing to say and a whole different thing to do–particularly if you actually understand the significance of the Hugos, which at the time I did not. In the end, I absolutely admire the way Annie Bellet, Marko Kloos and Edmund Schubert handled the whole thing.
With all that said, I plan to go back to what I’ve been doing: ignoring awards, working on my own stuff and listening to Tess Irondale read my own stories to me. /shamelessplug!