Just back from AggieCon 42

I had a wonderful time — and 7 panels. 4 panels in a row on Friday. Man, I was exhausted.

Met a lot of great people: John Joseph Adams, Catherynne M. Valente, Michael Bey, Veronica Stark, Patrice Sarath, Tom Knowles, O. M. Grey, and Martha Wells.

And there were the usual suspects too: William Ledbetter, A. Lee Martinez, Stina Leicht, and many many more!

A real thrill was to see my old friend Katie Stauber, author of “Revolution World”, and her husband Chet — haven’t seen them in 8+ years!

All in all, a blast.

Review: “Gil’s All Fright Diner” by A. Lee Martinez

Before I review, a little bit of honesty: I’ve met Mr. Martinez, and I think he’s a great guy — hilarious, a great game player, and great to talk to. This may color my impression of the book, but I doubt it.

This is simply a damn good book. Interesting characters, a fun story. Lots of hilarious passages. A one-eyed squid monster that’s trying to destroy the world. I mean, what else could you want? There’s a reason this novel did so well: it’s a blast to read, and a fast read too.

I haven’t read any of Martinez’s other works yet, but I’ll definitely be giving them a shot.

My only complaint is that I’m not sure why he hasn’t done a sequel to Gil’s. With the world he created, there are ample opportunities for other stories.

6 out of 7 monocular septapus arms.

You can buy it on Amazon here.

Writing and Confidence

It’s one of the great ironies of my writing that I am often motivated to write by fear, uncertain times, or when my confidence has been shaken. And — with the tragedies in Japan, the possibility of a looming global economic turndown because of it, and me still trying to get back into my old daily writing habits — there’s more than enough negative emotions to go around.

So, predictably, I have written 1,000 words already this week Monday-Wed when my previous productivity has been about 700 words for a full 7 days.

But of course this comes with a cost, too. My query letters are small, terrified, things cowering under the sofa behind the dust bunny and my daughter’s lost toy. I don’t say “Hi” to strangers much any more, I can’t think of anything funny to say in conversation so I don’t say anything at all.

Perhaps this unconscious self-isolation helps throw me into the world of the novel. Perhaps not. Perhaps writing is a refuge for me from the nighted world.

Whatever the case, at least I am writing again. Now if I could only have my self-confidence and my writing too!

What to do when you’re tired and discouraged

So maybe you’ve been plugging away at short stories for a while and nothing seems to work. Or maybe you’ve got a novel that never seems to end. Or maybe you’ve got something done, but you just can’t seem to sell it. Maybe you’ve got several novels sold, but you’re starting to hate what you write.

What do you do when you’re starting to give up hope, when th e world and deadlines and everything else starts crowding in?

There’re three major options:

1) Keep on plugging away, with bloody minded determination. This is the standard solution if you want to be published, and I highly recommend you try it sometime if you haven’t. Sometimes putting your blinders on and doing what has to be done is the only way to get where you want to go.

2) Give up. This is the most common response. There’s no shame to it — “Writing ain’t for everyone,” as the saying goes here in Texas. (But giving up is not what this journal is about!)

3) The middle road: Retreat to your sacred space. Take the pressure off. Let your bliss return, so it feels less like a job. The danger here is that you’ll never come back, but to lessen that danger, lay some ground rules — you don’t have to write in your sacred space, but you can’t go internet surfing either. Make a short list of acceptable behaviors (reading certain books, studying certain subjects, writing poetry, staring insensate at the wall/plants/traffic, meditation, taking a nap/sleeping). You’ll probably find that you resort to a lot of staring — this is because a lot of burnout comes from stress and exhaustion. Your mind probably just needs to rest and heal.

Whatever you choose to do, make peace with yourself. You’ve chosen that option, and you’re going to give a shot no matter what. Promise yourself 10 days of trying before you move on to something else.

Help Japan – and – Media Exhaustion

I am overwhelmed by the scale of the tragedy in Japan, and I’ve already made plans attend at least one fundraiser, and to try and figure out other ways I can do my small part. I strongly recommend everyone else do what they can, as well. Every little bit helps.

But I am also exhausted by the media coverage. All of the films. The white line in the ocean that turns into a black amoeba on land. The cars as small as river stones, the ships small as toys, people running and driving as fast as they can to get away, entire houses and building afloat on the slow-creeping doom.

I have to have a break from it sometime, and I think that time is now.