Norwescon Schedule

Author Stuff

Norwescon is coming up the first weekend of April, and I’ll be on several panels again. Here’s my schedule. I think I’m doing the writer’s workshop again, but other than that and the listed panels below, it’ll be BarCon.

And yes, on the “Science of Magic” panel, I may play the “I’m a practicing magickian” card again. And I’ll report on the act of magick that came out of the WFC panel on the somewhat similar topic.

Whose Story Is It, Anyway? (Friday Noon Cascade 3&4)
Having trouble with too much villain and not enough hero in your stories? Do you have too much hero, while the villain never comes out of the woodwork? Striking a balance isn’t always easy, but sometimes a balanced tale isn’t the best thing to write, either. Come discuss with the pros which villain- or hero-heavy stories they thought worked, which ones didn’t, which ones were great when well-balanced, and which ones sucked anyway.
Christopher Bodan (M), Mark Teppo, Irene Radford, Jean Johnson

Fact and Fantasy (Saturday 11 am Cascade 6)
When does ‘staying real’ matter, and when does it just get in the way? Should fantasy Seattle streets match real Seattle streets perfectly? Does your pseudo-medieval weaponry have to perform like the real thing? How much can we alter history for the sake of the story before the reader cries ‘Enough!’
J. A. Pitts (M), Stina Leicht, Mark Teppo, Mary Robinette Kowal, Adrienne Carlson

Character Arc, Plot Arc — Story! (Saturday Noon Cascade 11)
Knowing how your plot and characters change as the tale moves forward helps a writer to craft more powerful stories. What makes a great character arc, and how can you make your character’s internal change more compelling? What makes a great plot arc, and how can you intertwine your plot with your character?
Carol Berg (M), Corry L. Lee, Mark Teppo, Mary Rosenblum

The Science of Magic (Saturday 6 pm Cascade 7)
How do you create a believable system of magic? Is knowledge of Latin useful? What about wands, crystal balls, and other tools? And, how do you create real jeopardy in a story when, literally, anything is possible?
Mickey “Meowse” Phoenix (M), Bart Kemper, Carol Berg, Mark Teppo

New Mongoliad Chapters

Author Stuff

I’m deep in the Mongoliad deathmarch. Book 1 has been through editorial and is winging its way through production. Book 2 has been turned in, and we’re lashed to our keyboards through the end of the year, trying to finish this beast. I think we’re finally past that point of not being able to see the end. For several months, it seemed–no matter how much content we wrote–there was still 60,000 more words to write. Now, I think we’re past that point, and the remaining word count is diminishing. I hope.

In January, I have another project to sink myself into.

In February, there will be much noise about Sektrit Plan Alpha.

All in all, the writing continues at a breakneck pace. Blogging suffers.

Post WFC

Author Stuff

I never know when to leave conventions, and World Fantasy Convention always flummoxes me. Do I stay through the banquet, congratulate the winners, and then leave? Do I leave Sunday morning and simply miss the last day of watching the dead lumber around? Or do I wait until the site goes quiet for the banquet and then take my leave?

It always feels like I’m slipping out of a friend’s house while they’ve left the room for a moment to use the bathroom.

But WFC 2011 is behind us now. Tonight is Halloween, and due to the timing of the con, it will be the first Halloween I’ve done with BOTH kids. And that realization takes a lot of the sting out of leaving. That last hour, however, was still filled with the frantic calculations of when you will see everyone again.

Did I accomplish the business I hoped to do? Not entirely. Did other awesome and interesting opportunities present themselves? Yes, they did. Going to WFC reminds me why one should never set one’s five- and ten- year plans in stone. One should always be flexible. One should always be ready to say “yes” to something new and unexpected without thinking too much about how that project will actually come together. WFC reminds me that, while writing can be a solitary experience, creating is not. As much as I love writing, I do love creating more.

My convention began with a panel on Magic and Metaphysics. Ted Chiang, Kristin Janz, Peter Orullian and I kept an audience entertained for more than an hour at a time past when panels are supposed to be interesting. A number of people stopped me throughout the rest of the con, expressing their appreciation for our discussion and clearly wishing we could continue it. One gentleman actually posed a very interesting non-fiction book idea that, at the very least, might be an interesting follow-up panel. Perhaps at Norwescon in the spring.

I signed copies of Lightbreaker and Heartland at the Night Shade Books table for a few hours on Saturday. I felt very much like the shabby cousin, surrounded by the depth and breadth of the New Voices program that the Shade has launched this fall. So very many gorgeously designed and enticing books. I made up for my feelings of inadequancy among these wunderkind by personalizing the remaining copies of my books before I left. I didn’t just sign them; I left little messages in each. I hope they all find happy homes.

One of my favorite conversations was not about fantasy or science fiction or the business of publishing but about Sir Richard Burton and the terror of William Blake, about the Coen Brothers and David Fincher and their fierce vision of making film, about Thucydidies and Xenophon and how The Aeneid was nothing more than fan fiction (but yes, we’d all read parts of it in the original Latin).

I miss you all, crazy dreamers. But now we must go work through the cold winter.

WFC Appearance

Author Stuff

I’ll be attending World Fantasy Convention next week in San Diego, CA. While seeing all of my pals, I will also be moderating a panel on Thursday evening at 10:00PM. It’s called “Magic and Metaphysics.” Here’s the panel description:

What makes a magic system believable? Authors and world builders create the rules that govern their magic when the whole point of magic, one would think, is to break the rules. Is it reasonable to try to constrain magic by the laws of nature? Bonewitz proposed a whole set of rules based on principles such as similarity and contagion? Is a logical and consistent magical system actually magic?

It’ll be held in Pacific 2/3, which I would assume to a nicely sized room. On the panel with me are Ted Chiang, Kristin Janz, and Peter Orullian. Drop by. It looks like it will be a fun panel.

Two Podcasts

Author Stuff

It seems like my respite from the word mines was illusory at best, and I should vanish again, but–fighting and clawing against such subterranean banishment–I do have a few items to note before I go.

Writers Cast Podcast. David Wilk and I chatted a few weeks ago about the state of publishing. We touch on The Mongoliad, of course, and I soapbox a bit about the changes I see coming in the publishing industry. Given Amazon’s announcement about 47North earlier this week, you can better understand some of my longer pauses in the podcast. Oh, I wanted to share, but just had no idea when the news would drop.

The second podcast is going to released tomorrow on Bitten By Books. Use this RSVP link if you’d like to be entered in the contest. There will be some quasi-live Q & A stuff going on as well. The podcast was recorded a few months ago by Sandra Wickham over a few Manhattans. It went longer than either of us expected, and if I remember correctly, she let me natter quite a bit about some of the underlying mythology of the Codex of Souls books. Stop by on Friday, download the podcast, and let’s keep some energy alive on these books.

I went into the city last night and caught Boris last night. They stuck to Attention Please and Heavy Rocks (2011) for the most part, including a deliriously noisy 15-minute version of “Missing Pieces” and an awesome opener of “Riot Sugar.” The doorman at Moe’s was using a stamp with the word “JOY” in large block caps, and I’m in no rush to wash that ink off today.

The Mongoliad As Print Book

Author Stuff

Amazon Publishing launched 47North this morning. It’s their new SF/F imprint, and one of the headlining title is The Mongoliad.*

Just look at that cover art. I am more than a little pleased. Thrilled, even. Jumping up and down, in fact.

Book One will be released in April 2012. You can click through on that link to be taken to the Amazon page for the book. Book Two and Book Three will be released in fairly quick succession, which means that, by Christmas, you will be able to stack the entirety of The Mongoliad by your fireplace to give the reindeer something to read while Santa raids your refrigerator.

*Yes, I realize The Mongoliad appears to be slightly altered historical fiction, certainly not enough–at first glance–to warrant being classified as “fantasy.” But that first glance barely scratches the surface of what’s going on in Foreworld.

Upcoming Reading / Discussion

Author Stuff

The gang at Foolscap have tapped me to start off their summer reading series. Saturday, June 26th from 2:00pm – 5:00pm at the Shoreline Library.

Three hours, gang. I’ll read something from the CODEX books (as that’s ostensibly why we’re there), talk about some of the world-building (read geek out about the occult), and I’m sure someone will start a conversation about The Mongoliad, which I’ll indulge as best I can.

As it’s taking place at a library, there won’t be books for sale, but I’m happy to sign anything you bring.

On the Foolscap Convention page, there’s a discussion topic if you want to preload any topic you’d like me to discuss. Otherwise, hopefully I’ll see some of you there.

Subutai in SF

Author Stuff

There’s a regular geek-up in San Francisco called Dorkbot, and a couple of the SF-based Subutai officers will be at this week’s meeting on Wednesday (Facebook event listing). They’ll demo The Mongoliad and engage in a little Q & A. For those of you not in SF, we’ve put up a YouTube video of Neal Stephenson and Greg Bear doing the talking head routine about the historical backdrop against which The Mongoliad plays out.

Historical Scope video

For those of you who’ve gone to the Mongoliad website, I’m sure you’ve noticed the header of “Foreworld.” In the YouTube video, Neal–briefly–hints at why such a header exists.

The First Day

Author Stuff

Today was my first day of being a full-time writer, and frankly, it was rather mundane. Started clearing my desk and making it a useful workspace. At which point, I realized that all the books on the south side of the room were books I didn’t need that close at hand, and all the books on the north side and west side were the active projects, and so a massive re-organization began. Right now, it’s chaos in here, and I have orange sticky notes on the shelves noting where certain categories are going be filed.

Did the dishes, watched the maintenance guys from Sears come by and service all of our appliances, caught a few episodes of The Venture Bros, and listened to some music. And a podcast (Thelema Now! with William Kiesel, talking about esoteric books, Ouroboros Press, and the Esoteric Book Conference).

Speaking of music, today’s playlist was J. G. Thirlwell’s incidental music for the Venture Bros, Delerium’s Syrophenikan, Caul’s Kairos, and Gitane Demone’s Lullabies for a Troubled World. One of the nice things about working here is that the mood isn’t always Thrash and Noise (aka The White Noise That Drowns Out The Ambient Noise Of The Train).

Caul’s Kairos is a really nice surprise. In the past, Caul has been very ambient–very, very ambient–and this record introduces rhythms and beats. Almost downtempo in their slinkiness. The Caul website has an imbedded player where you can hear the whole record.

New Projects

Author Stuff

I gave notice at my day job today. Fourteen years I’ve been there. Wrapping it up in the next two weeks to go be a writer full-time. I know. All of a sudden, isn’t it? Well, it’s been a long process of working in the wee hours of the day and night, but I’ve finally reached a point where I can’t do everything all the time. I have reached the point of needing to simply.

Less tech work. More writing.

That seems pretty simple.

Of course, it get complicated when Neal Stephenson twitters today that “Our first demo of the new novel I am writing with Greg Bear, Nicole Galland, Mark Teppo, and others” will be happening next week in San Francisco (handy link to announcement).

This is the Sekrit Project. Called The Mongoliad, it’s well, go look. I probably won’t be here for a bit when you get back. Things to do and all.