Mark Oshiro reads The Benevolence Archives!

Through a series of shenanigans involving a mutual Patreon supporter (thank you, Hatstand4510!) Mark Oshiro of Mark Does Stuff has done a blind YouTube reading of the first two short stories in The Benevolence Archives, Vol. 1. I was aware this was coming, and I was terrified to actually watch the video, but Mark is a really engaging reader and he is at least convincingly faking enjoying the story.

It’s really odd as an author to watch someone reacting to your work in real-time; people talk to me after they read things sometimes, and once in a while I see reviews, but this react-as-you-go approach to reading is really fascinating, and it was really cool to see some of my jokes and hints toward future stories hit the mark (no pun intended) as Mark was reading through them. The video is half an hour long, so it’s a bit of an investment, but we all have time on our hands now, right? Check it out, and follow Mark on YouTube and Patreon if you want to see more!

A couple of things that seem related but probably aren’t

I’ve been sick all week. I spent one damn day at C2E2 and I’ve had a sore throat for a week as a result; I stayed home from work yesterday (and did not get paid for it, as I’m out of sick days) because when I woke up I found myself completely unable to talk. My voice is still not remotely normal today, and I lost it a couple of times at work today, but not quite as bad as yesterday morning. I did not factor being out a day’s pay into the cost of C2E2, and that loss combined with not being able to swallow for a week has pushed the trip well into “not worth it” territory.


As of this afternoon, I have cancelled my one existing convention commitment for the rest of the year; I was going to go to IndyPopCon in July and have reconsidered those plans. I’ve been doing Kokomo-Con every year for three or four years now; I’m not signed up this year and I think I’m going to skip that as well. While I could probably mumble a bit about coronavirus or something like that and, Jesus, I’m absolutely certain I’ll have that the second it hits Indiana, the simple fact is that these cons have gotten very samey over the last few years and, unfortunately, I’ve started to lose interest in pushing books to strangers. I’m not really working on anything at the moment, I haven’t been in a while, and while that will probably change eventually it’s not gonna change soon. I need to hit reset on a lot of things, and stepping away from cons for at least the rest of 2020 seems like a good idea even without a global pandemic fucking things up during an election year. I just don’t need it.

(I have been sick every two weeks, if not more frequently, since August, to the point where I’m starting to wonder if there’s something in my classroom making me sick, or something going on with my immune system that I need to have looked at. I have never, ever been this consistently sick in seventeen years of teaching. Not close.)

(The blog is not going anywhere. The blog is essential to my mental health. I will keep writing here even if literally no one is reading it.)

My Patreon is probably not long for this world either, as I don’t pay enough attention to it to feel good about charging people, and I basically forgot it existed in February and then charged everyone anyway. If I can’t come up with a use for it in March that I’m actually going to stick to I’m going to pack it up at the end of the month. I don’t mind the extra little piece of change that I get from it every month (and it’s a little piece of change; don’t get me wrong) but I’m not going to take it from people if I’m not giving them something useful in return, and right now that’s not happening.

Anyway. I’m okay, don’t worry about it; I just need to do some reassessing and reprioritizing, and the simple fact is it’s been going on for a while now, I’m just admitting it and making it official. I’m gonna lie low for most of the rest of this year. We’ll see what happens in 2021.

In which you’ve been spared

…on the one hand, I haven’t posted in two days, although I meant to today and the day totally got away from me. I was startlingly busy for a day off.

On the other hand, you’ve not had to read the essay/rant (I haven’t quite nailed the tone down yet) about TikTok that’s been rattling around in my head for the last several days, and I think you should probably thank me for that.

This is how much I don’t want to be grading

There is a new, canonical Benevolence Archives microfiction up at Patreon right now. I don’t update my Patreon nearly as often as I ought to but I’m also prone to not charging people during the months where I don’t update much, and there’s definitely enough content up over there now to justify your $1 or $2 every couple of months. So if the idea of more BA excites you at all, maybe check it out.

In other news, I am watching basketball again. IU is up four on Maryland at the moment with two minutes left; we’ll see if me posting that fact here ends up losing the game for them.(*)

(Yes, I have managed to more or less eradicate paying attention to sports from my life. No, I will never manage to eradicate being deeply superstitious about IU basketball. Never, as long as I live; it’s ground in there too deeply.)

That said, I’ve now blogged, written actual fiction, done a bit of light cleaning around the house, showered and gotten dressed today, so I’m much closer to an adult than I usually am on a typical Sunday and there is at least a chance that some of the ridiculous pile of grading I need to take care of is going to have some headway made on it after dinner.

Just a chance, mind you, not a guarantee. Just because I’m close to being an adult today doesn’t mean I’m a responsible one. 🙂


(*) Did Maryland end the game with a 7-0 run and win by a point, despite the fact that I waited to post this until after the game ended? Yes, they did. Am I nonetheless responsible for the loss, even though I could very well have deleted the evidence and not said anything about it to anyone? Yes. Yes, I am.

Saleswanking 2019, and Writing 2020

Don’t worry, this will be brief, because there’s not a whole damn lot to talk about: I sold exactly 114 books in 2019, 91 of which were in person and a whopping 23 on Amazon. I had no new releases of any kind this year. I intended to spend most of the summer broadening the places where my books were available (I went off KDP forever ago, so I’ve been Amazon-exclusive with no real benefits for it since then) and working on a new novel (I have three in various stages of not-finished) but the Ongoing Medical Calamity derailed the fuck out of that. I’ve written some microfictions and maybe a couple of short stories this year over at Patreon and that’s it. I went to … three cons, I think? Four? Kokomo-Con, InConjunction, ConGlomeration, and Hall of Heroes con. So four. I know I canceled at least two because of the Calamity, and right now I’m only scheduled for one in 2020– Indy Popcon, which was one of the two I cancelled last summer.

I said this yesterday, and let me repeat it: there is no risk– none– of the blog going anywhere, because it’s too important to my ongoing mental health even before you get to the part where I like writing here. But for the first time in several years I’m thinking about deliberately hitting pause on calling myself an independent author for a while. I’ve mostly been ignoring my books on here except for the occasional Station Identification post on the weekends and the static links on the right; I may as well put them back on KDP if I’m not going to do the legwork necessary to have them available all over the place. I don’t write a lot of fiction any longer because with everything going on in my life I haven’t had the mental space for it, and I require an enormous amount of headspace to be able to write fiction. Nonfiction? Blog posts? Dead easy. But I don’t like writing fiction, and I never have– what I like is having written fiction, which is an amazing high that unfortunately requires me to spend hours pulling teeth first. I think about writing fiction all day, every day, I just don’t actually do it.

It might be time to put it away for a bit and not think about it at all. I’ll either get my mojo back, which would be good, or I won’t, which really won’t be any different from now except for the guilt. My family’s health situation isn’t getting better anytime soon– there is no silver lining to this cloud and no light at the end of the tunnel, and that’s not depression talking, it’s unfortunate and inevitable fact– so the only thing to do is decide what to do about it. I can make a serious effort to reprioritize my fiction, which means finding some other things to put away, or I can put it away. I just need to decide which one I’m going to do.