Errbody cross your fingers

I applied for a job today– a job I’m well qualified for, and would be good at (and, basically, have already done under a different title) and the application window is tight enough that there shouldn’t be a ton of other applicants, and which would come with an enormous raise.

So, whatever it is that you might do to try and shove some good luck in the direction of other humans, I’d appreciate it if you’d do some of that toward me in the next few days.

Convention update

Unfortunately, due to the Ongoing Medical Disaster, which I’m considering renaming the Ongoing Medical Calamity because “calamity” is a more fun word than “disaster,” I have been forced to cancel my appearance at IndyPopCon the weekend of June 7th. It is not a good time to be leaving town right now, and I don’t see that changing in the next couple of weeks, plus I would have to take the 7th off from work and I can’t afford to take any additional days not related to the OMD.

So that leaves me with no con appearances currently scheduled between now and Kokomo-Con X in October, and two in a row cancelled. I’m considering seeing if InConJunction, which is over my birthday weekend, and Hall of Heroes Con in September still have spots available. Maybe one more summer con if I can find somewhere to go. Anywhere have something they’d like to suggest, ideally this summer and ideally within driving distance of northern Indiana?

A couple of reviewlets

I took a shower after getting up this morning, as I do every day before work, and I had a coughing fit after my shower, as also happens damn near every day. I don’t know why this happens, but it’s been a feature of my life since college: finish shower, coughing fit.

The coughing fit going on for so long that I puke was new, though. As I have A Rule about these things, I quickly amended my half day off because of Ongoing Medical Disaster to a full day, took the boy to school, hoping that no further esophageal eruptions would occur, and took a nap. Then I got back up, finished reading a book, and beat a video game. Then I puked again, right after beating the video game.

It was some kind of day, I’ll tell you what.

I have read one Sam Sykes book in the past. Well, started. His The City Stained Red bounced off of me hard, in the sort of way that leaves you suspecting you’re being unfair to the book somehow, but I like him enough on Twitter to be willing to give him a second chance, and man, am I glad I did, because Seven Blades in Black is a monstrously good book despite the terrible, Monty-Python-esque cover. It’s nearly 700 pages long and I blew through it in about three days because I didn’t want to put it down– and right up to the last 100 pages I was pretty convinced I was reading what would eventually become my favorite book of the year.

Unfortunately, the book could probably stand to be about a hundred pages shorter, and this may be a consequence of having read it so fast, but a number of its tropes started feeling really damn repetitive toward the end and it started to wear on me a tiny bit. This still leaves it good enough that it’s a solid candidate for the end-of-year list, but I liked the first 5/6 more than I did the end. This is gritty, violent, profane fantasy literature that somehow manages to be high-magic and low fantasy at the same time, not a combination that I see all that often (or would have thought possible before reading this) and the most amazing thing about it is that Sykes makes it feel so easy. I don’t know his process at all, but this feels like it was written in seven or eight ten-hour bursts over the course of seven or eight days, and in case it’s not clear I mean that as a compliment. For all I know, he agonized over it for a really long time, but on the page it just feels … I dunno, I don’t want to repeat “easy” again but the whole thing just comes off as really organic somehow, like it wrote itself.

And I love Sal the Cacophony, even if she looks ridiculous on the cover. Check the book out.


I finally finally finally finally finally finally finally fucking beat Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice today, a game I started playing approximately six years ago, and no shadows die at any point in the game and in fact the word “shadow” is never uttered once anywhere by anyone and it’s the worst subtitle in the history of video games but that’s okay because Sekiro might be my favorite game ever right now. That said there are four endings and I just got one of them, and the one I got involved beating a different final boss than the other three do, so … I’ve got some more fucking work to do, because I’m getting every damn trophy this game has to offer and no one and nothing is going to stop me.

You should buy this game and you should dedicate your life to getting good at it because it is insanely Goddamned difficult and it will break you down and make you cry and force you to play on its terms no matter what you want to do. And you will do it anyway because the game is just that fuckin’ good. 15/10 would cry again. Probably will tonight, as a matter of fact, because I have two active save files on two different last bosses and I only beat one of them today. Time to go back to the other one.

I figure it’ll take another week, minimum.

On George R.R. Martin and stress

This is not a review of the Game of Thrones finale. I might write one of those, but for right now, no. Feel free to read this without fear of any spoilers. It is also not another why won’t he finish the booooooks whine, because 1) George R.R. Martin is not your bitch and 2) I have plenty to read. So adjust your expectations accordingly before you read further.

Y’all, I am, honestly and sincerely, kinda worried about George.

Here’s the thing: you may be aware that I wrote a book called Skylights, a book which ends in such a way that strongly suggests that at least one sequel is forthcoming. Skylights was released in 2014 and the first draft was completed well before that, and was set in a near enough future that it now demands a second edition where I’ve elided most of the actual dates.

I have been thinking about the Skylights sequel for, I think, close to a decade now, if not longer than that. I have taken several serious stabs at writing it, all of which have failed. In that time, precisely zero people have pushed me for a release date or tried to buttonhole me about what happens next. Have people liked the book? Yeah, generally. But there’s no popular groundswell out there for a sequel. Nobody’s chewing their nails or mad at me that the book’s not done yet. If it were to never come out absolutely no one would be upset. The pressure is entirely, 100% internal.

And that goddamn unwritten-ass book is a source of stress in my life every single fucking day. I literally do not go a single day, ever, without chiding myself for not working on the Skylights sequel. Does it make me continue to work on it? No. No, it does not.

And Skylights is a sequel to one book, featuring a constrained cast of characters, and not the sixth (or seventh!) book in a massive doorstop series that a huge chunk of the world knows exists and has been clamoring for for decades.

I think about what this dude must have been going through, having sold this series to TV, and having to watch the slow-motion nightmare apocalypse unfold as the TV series gets closer and closer and finally passes the narrative in the books, and having to have a conversation with people about where he sees the ending going (and I will never believe that he had actually decided on the ending long enough ago to talk to HBO about it) and then, to make things so, so much worse, to have the first ending to his story be so universally despised as this one was.

I want to say something like “Oh, he can just lie down in his giant pile of money and not worry about it,” but you know, I really don’t think GRRM is actually that type of person. I don’t know him; I’ve never met the man, but I just don’t see that. (And if he is, that’s fine! Again, GRRM is not your bitch, or mine, either.)

I’m just picturing myself in this situation, and thinking about how I literally cannot conceive of any way that this deal might have gone any worse for him than the way it did, regardless of the money. Even cancellation would have been better, because then he wouldn’t have had the indignity of having to watch someone else finish his story while he continues to struggle with these massive, unwritable books– and to have to watch them do so in a way that nearly everyone agreed was terrible.

I would not be able to cope with this shit, y’all. Just would not. And no amount of money would help me with it. Again, I’m stressing about Sunlight, or Moonlight, or whateverthefuck it’s going to be called if I ever release it, and no one cares about that but me. He’s literally going through what I’m going through times several million.

So yeah. I’m worried about him right now. Maybe he should be trying to take a swim in his huge pile of money, if he’s not already doing it.

#REVIEW: 5 Critical Things for Successful Book Signings, by Adam Dreece

Calling this a “review” might be overstating the case a little bit, I dunno. Think of it more as a public service announcement for those of you who are authors who do book signings:

Pick this book up, and read it, (it’s only about 130 pages, so it won’t take terribly long) and internalize its teachings. The meat of the book is right there in the title, so there’s not a whole lot of need to go into details about what the book covers; just be aware that Adam is really good at this sort of thing and the advice in the book is spot-on.

Necessary disclosures: I got to see an early ARC and provided a blurb for the back cover and the Amazon description, and even before then I’d been stealing ideas from Adam since my first show at InConJunction several years ago. That said, he rejected my first blurb– which is fine, as I suspected he was going to, and provided him with the one he actually used a few minutes later. That said, since this is my blog, and not his book, here’s the first blurb I tried to get him to use:

“This book gives you all the advantages of Adam Dreece’s knowledge and experience without the mess and effort of hunting him down and consuming his brain and living soul. Highly recommended.”
—Luther M. Siler, author of THE BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES

Can’t imagine why he didn’t use it.

Anyway, if you’re an author, this will be money well spent. And you can even write it off on your taxes! So everybody wins.