27 August 2013

LoneStarCon 3!

I will be at LoneStarCon 3 in San Antonio from Thursday, August 29 through Sunday, September 1st. I don’t have a con­ven­tion agenda; I’ll be try­ing to meet with a few clients, going to a cou­ple of par­ties to which I’ve been invited, and gen­er­ally try­ing to meet a few friends. Clients are wel­come to track me down for a meal my treat; I’m not book­ing any­thing ahead of time. Consider your reward for play­ing the game Where’s Jeremy a free meal at one of San Antonio’s many lovely restaurants.

I’m look­ing for­ward to the clos­est thing I’ve had to a vaca­tion in quite some time! I hope to see you there.

04 August 2013

Mostly True Tales of Winona IX

I love my house, but there are some weird things about it crop­ping up as we get settled.

For instance, there’s a small shrine to a horse in the attic. It con­sists of an old and fad­ing pho­to­graph of a horse and a weird horse rid­ing crop/​whip thing hangs on the wall above it. There’s a woman in the photo, but her face is too blurry to make out with an aim towards iden­ti­fy­ing her. The shrine is set up in the far­thest, deep­est cor­ner away from the entrance. I don’t like to go up there. Looking at the pho­to­graph makes me really uneasy, but I don’t know why. And I think there’s dried blood on that whip thing. I’m not sure what dried blood looks like exactly, but I think it looks like that. Dark brown stains of a dubi­ous nature.

The stairs to go up into the attic are in our mas­ter bed­room closet (it’s a pretty weird setup). My side of the bed is right next to the door. Sometimes when I wake up in the mid­dle of the night, I catch a whiff of some­thing that I haven’t been able to iden­tify, but I finally real­ized this morn­ing– it’s the smell of a wet horse blanket.

31 July 2013

Near Future Coffee Shop Conversations You Will Have #1 : What Do You Do?

So what do you do?” you ask reluc­tantly as the line creeps forward.

I just launched a news aggre­ga­tion site in the style of Pokemon text,” he says with the broad grin of youth that has yet to wake up with a back ache for no good rea­son. “We’re in one of the incu­ba­tors over in West Plaza North.”

Pokemon? That video game for kids with the lit­tle anime monsters?”

Well,” he says, shift­ing his weight uneasily, “Pokemon was for kids when we were kids. But a lot of peo­ple our age still play. It’s a very pop­u­lar franchise.”

How does that even work?” You very much really regret for­get­ting to charge your phone overnight.

Here.” He pulls a tablet out of his can­vas mes­sen­ger bag, flips up the black leather cover, and swipes to unlock. He hands you the tablet.

‘PALESTINE uses PEACE TALKS… it’s INEFFECTIVE!’” you read aloud. You scroll down the page. “Seems pretty limiting.”

Not at all. We’ve got the ‘X learns MOVE NAME’ for­mat to work with also. Pretty much any news can be phrased in a way our gen­er­a­tion just ‘gets,’ and it’s all about cater­ing to our needs now that the Boomers are in decline,” he says. “You should come by our office some time. We have every Pokemon game ever made, includ­ing some really rare imports.” You hand the tablet back to him and he puts it away.

Sure, some time,” you say in a tone that unmis­tak­ably means “no way in hell.” The line moves for­ward as another free­lancer places their order for a Starbucks-​​brand kopi luwak cold­press grande at $12.99. “How’s that work­ing out for you?”

Eh.” He shrugs. “It’s okay. We have three mil­lion daily read­ers, but I think we can hit ten once we start pub­lish­ing in English too.”

# # #

29 July 2013

New sales: “Wet Fur” to Asimov’s and “El Alma Perdida de Marguerite Espinoza” to Podcastle

I’ve been a bit lax on updat­ing the blog with sales news. The head­line says most every­thing you really need to know, but that would make for a poor blog post so here are more details.

When I got the email from Sheila Williams on Friday, I scanned it and thought it said she was reject­ing the story at first. When I read it a sec­ond time and real­ized that she said she wanted to take it pro­vided I rewrite the over-​​long first sen­tence, I let out an invol­un­tary shout that scared the cats and had my wife call­ing from upstairs to know what was wrong. Then I started hoot­ing and maybe danc­ing a lit­tle. It’s all a blur.

Selling a story to Asimov’s Magazine has been a dream of mine since I was 13. My father read Asimov’s reli­giously, so for me this sale is spe­cial. I’m very proud of the sales I have made to Lightspeed and Interzone, but it was Asimov’s that rep­re­sented “break­ing in” for me for so many years. My Dad would have been almost as excited as I am.

Equally awe­some, Podcastle con­tacted me about pod­cast­ing my fan­tasy story from Lightspeed last year, and of course I agreed. I’m really look­ing for­ward to hear­ing their pro­duc­tion of it, and their inter­est in it has reminded me that I need to some­how make time to write the sequels to that story that I have planned. A world where human souls are a com­mod­ity lends itself to a lot of world-​​building fun.

In other writ­ing news, I’ve received in invi­ta­tion to write a short story for an anthol­ogy called Wrecked Earth which is a series of sto­ries set in the world of CLUTCH by C.E.L. Welsh. This will include a short comic book adap­ta­tion of the story.

In longer form writ­ing news, work con­tin­ues apace on the NIGHTFELL graphic novel I’m work­ing on with Outland Entertainment’s lead/​colorist Jeremy Mohler and artist/​penciler Nicolàs Giancondino. This is going to be a longer form (150 pages or so) graphic novel that is kind of epic fan­tasy and kind of some­thing… else. I’m really excited about work­ing with the artists; col­lab­o­ra­tion on this scale is new to me, but if all goes well, I think this is going to be great fun to work on and read.

Life in gen­eral is very full, busy, and gen­er­ally awe­some. I’m keep­ing busy with all the writ­ing, free­lance web design, and unpack­ing our belong­ings in our brand new house here in Lawrence, Kansas. The only thing I need right now is a few friends over to play board games on our new din­ing room table. And that should hap­pen soon enough, I’m guessing…

25 June 2013

Personal Updates, Also; Why I Tweet More than I Blog

I don’t know if any­one reads this blog any­more that isn’t also friends with me on Twitter or Facebook. Despite my best efforts to switch back to more blog­ging, what I have found is that social net­works give a sense of more imme­di­ate feed­back and con­nec­tiv­ity than blog­ging does. You blog some­thing and it just seems to dis­ap­pear into the void that is the net.

With Twitter and Facebook, feed­back is near spon­ta­neous. Only prob­lem is, you can’t share as much. But then, we’re all pressed for time, with more things demand­ing our atten­tion than ever before, so maybe there’s a cer­tain arro­gance in expect­ing any­one to read a blog post that is more than 140 char­ac­ters in length. Better make it valu­able, then. Or at least short.

I’m going with short.

Personal life updates: we’re buy­ing a house next week. It’s a nice turn of the cen­tury num­ber with a lot of charm in a quiet lit­tle Lawrence, Kansas neigh­bor­hood. We’re really look­ing for­ward to restor­ing the orig­i­nal char­ac­ter to it and grow­ing a big veg­etable gar­den in the yard. We’re ner­vous about the added expense, but it seems time to put down roots again. Lawrence is a lovely lit­tle town full of inter­est­ing peo­ple. July is going to be a very hec­tic and scary month, I’m afraid, but it will be worth it.

Business has been great this year, and con­tin­ues to be good. I’ve got var­i­ous projects lin­ing up to take me through to the end of the sum­mer right now. If you’re look­ing to have me tackle a project for you, please con­tact me about it as soon as you can, as my cal­en­dar con­tin­ues to fill up quickly. /​shill

On the writ­ing front, I have even more good news. I sold a story, “In the Dying Light, We Saw A Shape,” to Lightspeed Magazine. I’ll be sure to post here when it comes out. I think you will enjoy it.

The story went through numer­ous drafts and was one of my work­shop pieces for the James Gunn short fic­tion work­shop run by Chris McKitterick and James Gunn, with guest instruc­tor Andy Duncan. Overall, I learned a lot from my two weeks in the work­shop. I highly rec­om­mend you attend if you’ve been con­sid­er­ing it.

It’s been a busy and pro­duc­tive sum­mer. I hope yours is going well.

08 June 2013

Why Do Henchmen Do What they Do?

I’ve always won­dered why hench-​​people are so will­ing to lay down their lives for clearly evil and unbal­anced mas­ter­minds, but I think I just fig­ured it out.

Henchmen and hench­women are recruited from the home­less pop­u­la­tion. People who have reached the bot­tom rung of soci­ety, slipped from it, and dropped into the abyss. Villains trawl for the lost souls and the give them food, a home, com­pan­ion­ship with other hench­men. A pur­pose. They’re trusted with responsibility.

So why do they line up to die in fights against “good guys?”

Gratitude. Henchmen do what they do out of gratitude.

Put your­selves in their posi­tion. Sure, the boss is insane. But you know insan­ity. You’ve wres­tled with it your­self, maybe, or you cer­tainly know peo­ple on the streets that strug­gle with it. And “evil?” What’s evil any­way? Oh, the boss wants to change the world, and how it would change might be unclear, but from your per­spec­tive, he or she has made your life 1000% better.

Villains do more for the home­less than any heroes. Supervillains build indus­try and pro­vide jobs to those who most des­per­ately need them. How many jobs does your aver­age super­hero cre­ate? Hell, they prob­a­bly puts police out of work if they’re ‘good’ at their jobs. Some hench­folk might even be for­mer cops who lost every­thing after yet another round of cuts, because hey, we have all these vol­un­teer heroes, why do we need another dozen police officers?

Giving some­one who has noth­ing even the small­est some­thing is the eas­i­est way directly to the core of them.

I am rethink­ing every super­hero comic I’ve ever read in this con­text now.

22 May 2013

Photo: Snapping Turtle

This is just a semi-​​crappy cam­era phone pic­ture but it makes me excited for the pho­tog­ra­phy oppor­tu­ni­ties for liv­ing in the coun­try. We’re putting an offer on a 100 year old Kansas farm­house tonight! In cel­e­bra­tion, here’s a snap­ping tur­tle we saw tonight.

snapping-turtle

20 May 2013

Describing The Problem With the First 20 Minutes of Star Trek: Into Darkness

We saw the new Star Trek movie. I liked it as a movie. I enjoyed it about as much as the first one. But it has prob­lems. Big problems.

Here be spoilers.

Io9 has a really good FAQ that takes the movie to task for some of its more dense deci­sions. It really focuses on that first open­ing away team mis­sion. The more I think about the start of that movie, the less I like it.

Here’s how it reads to me:

It’s like some­one watched an away team mis­sion from the orig­i­nal series, but dubbed in a lan­guage they don’t speak. They kind of under­stood there was some­thing was bad about directly inter­act­ing with alien natives, but they weren’t sure why. They saw the move­ment, the ten­sion of the sit­u­a­tion, and the char­ac­ters and the ship. But they didn’t under­stand word one of dia­logue. It was just peo­ple doing stuff in neat cos­tumes with some weird effects. They didn’t under­stand the spirit of the idea. And then they wrote their own ver­sion of that.

To put it another way, it’s like some­one try­ing to build a space shut­tle from a col­lec­tion of parts with only a photo of one in flight to go by as direction.

The new Star Trek, espe­cially in the open­ing scene, is a pithed frog. All twitch, no brain.

I’m not even going to get into the race-​​bending con­tro­versy. I agree with what oth­ers have said 100%.

And that’s what I have to say about a movie I actu­ally enjoyed. Can you imag­ine what I say about movies I hate?

14 May 2013

State of Jeremy Quarter One, 2013

It’s been a stress­ful year so far. I’ve accom­plished some things. Some things I have not. Some things are in the works.

  • The SFWA redesign, the biggest project of the year so far, has launched. It’s been gen­er­ally well received. We have more work to done. Websites are never done; they’re just abandoned.
  • Despite the hard work above, I’ve man­aged to read fif­teen books so far this year.
  • I’ve also caught three fish. Tasty crappie.
  • I’ve writ­ten three sto­ries, with more hope­fully to come. I’m still strug­gling to find my cre­ative energy lately. I’m hop­ing the sum­mer work­shop at KU really leads to me click­ing with the writ­ing again.
  • I’m doing world build­ing and pre­lim­i­nary script­ing for a fan­tasy web comic that could be pretty excit­ing if it goes well. I’ll be work­ing with the fine folks over at Outland Entertainment on that.
  • Planning, research, and design work for Stranger Creek has been mov­ing along slowly. Something’s not quick click­ing into place. I’m not sure what it is yet. Oh–maybe a plot? Plots really are my weak­ness as a writer. Good to know at least.
  • Dieting has not gone well so far but I still have hope. I’m start­ing back up again this week after aban­don­ing it a month or two back dur­ing a nasty cold.
  • We’ve started look­ing for homes around Lawrence. We even sub­mit­ted paper­work for a loan. Who knows how that’s going to go — banks are often very con­fused by self-​​employed people.
  • The trans­mis­sion went out on our Alero. $1300 to fix, min­i­mum. So that hurts. We’ll live, but it means vaca­tion plans for the sec­ond half of June prob­a­bly need to be scaled down. Probably need to do a stay-​​cation (what a hor­ri­ble sound­ing word), espe­cially if we move for­ward with buy­ing a house.
  • I’m still alive. I’m still here, despite the best efforts of an opos­sum a cou­ple of days ago. Here’s hop­ing the year keeps get­ting better.

09 May 2013

A Youth Serum for Hearts

Here & Now on NPR had an inter­view today with a researcher who has been look­ing into ways to fight heart dis­ease. They’ve iden­ti­fied a very promis­ing pro­tein called GDF-​​11 that was able to take old hearts in mice and return them to a youth­ful state:

Dr. Richard Lee, direc­tor of regen­er­a­tive med­i­cine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Amy Wagers, of the Department of Regenerative Biology at Harvard, made the dis­cov­ery when they were work­ing with younger and older mice.

They took an older mouse with the most com­mon form of human heart fail­ure and merged the mouse’s blood stream with that of a healthy young mouse using a Siamese twin tech­nique known as para­bio­sis. They found that the older mouse’s dis­eased heart was able to reverse to a younger health­ier condition.

Six years out from human use is actu­ally quite fast, as I under­stand it. The actual research paper can be found here. The results look pretty promis­ing from what I understand.

I don’t care about the eth­i­cal issues of liv­ing for­ever. Get this in me as soon as possible.