Demon Hunting and Tenth Dimensional Physics

Monday, September 28, 2020

A Chat About Our Country

 Hey, folks. I think it's time we sit down and have a little chat, you and I. And it's not going to be one about writing or reading or publishing today.

I know some of you aren't in the US, but a lot of you are in the US, so you're dealing with *gestures all around* the same way that I am. So I just want to have a conversation.

First of all, wear a mask when you're going to be around people you don't live with.

Okay, now that all the idiots have been driven away, we can have a real conversation.

I know that I'm just a fantasy author, but trust me, there are few non-political professions out there that seem to be more concerned with politics than SF/F authors. So we're going to lay this out.

Things are scary right now. Especially if you're a PoC, queer, or a woman, but all of us have been living with a generally heightened level of anxiety since at least March. For some of us, a lot longer, stretching back to Election Night 2016. Those are valid emotions.

And while I think there are a lot of places to look for hope, we have to do the hard things. Right now, today, we have to make preparations. Cis-women might need to start getting prescriptions for birth control, or even getting their tubes tied if they're willing to take that drastic a step. Queer couples need to get their paperwork in order, as if their marriage is going to be legally dissolved. Quadruply so if you have children. PoC...keep doing what you've been doing since forever, what you shouldn't have had to do in the first place. Trans folks need to get their paperwork and procedures and prescriptions in order yesterday.

If you know any of these people, then help them. And if you're not in any position to help them, at the very least, don't tell them that their worries are unfounded.

This is the kind of go time that nobody wants to be in. But it is go time nonetheless.

The polling is good. A lot better than 2016. Our fascist would-be dictator has not only shown his hand, but has described it in detail. The available procedural levers, few as they may be, are being pulled. Coups don't have a great history of success, as a rule. We're not only more aware that we could lose, but we're halfway convinced that we could lose, so we won't be blindsided. There is hope.

But we have to take care of ourselves, and we have to do it while the law still allows. Even though it's scary. Even though all of us wish we could stop fighting for two seconds and breathe. Today is not the day for that.

Vote blue. Volunteer. Canvass. Get your house in shape. Make sure you're protected, and fight tooth and nail for a functioning society going forward.

And for those of you not in the US...hi. I guess offer us thoughts and prayers?

Back to our regularly scheduled programming next time, but this was too important not to put out, too vital not to say it.

First of all, wear a mask.

Second of all, fight.

Third of all, breathe.


Friday, July 10, 2020

On Books and Expectation

So I've been reading a lot more, since I'm now in a book club (Online, of course, because I'm not an asshole and I want this pandemic under control.), and part of the way our book club works is, each month, a different person gets to select the book we're all going to read. It leads to a lot of variety in what we're choosing. We started with The Island of Dr. Moreau, then went into Weetzie Bat, the The Night Circus, and then continuing forward into Ben Bova and Anne Rice and Josh Lanyon and on and on.

This, all to say that we read a lot of different books, and not everything is to everyone's taste. Even when we all like a book, we're obviously not all going to be taking it the same way, bringing the same baggage to each title we go through (Not to mean baggage in a negative connotation.).

As such, I want to talk about reader expectations, and specifically my expectations going into the last book we read. Anne Rice's The Wolf Gift. Now, I liked this book. I don't recall that anyone in the club disliked the book, in fact.

But the member who chose it and I, specifically, had very different expectations for this novel than I did (Mild spoilers for the title mentioned. Or major. I'm writing this in one go, so...just spoilers.).

I can't speak entirely to her expectations, but what I saw going into this book was a young man, disaffected, interested in art and the finer things, and all those things unappreciated by the remainder of the people in his life.

So that was set up, for me, as the story of a man finding his place in the world, coming into his own confidence. And so I was disappointed when it immediately turned into a story of him...being a werewolf superhero. It ended up as a satisfying experience, all said and done, but it was quite hard for me to get into the more interesting part of the book because it didn't live up to the expectations that the author had unknowingly set for me.

There was no reason for Anne Rice to know or care how I would take the opening of her novel. I very easily could have taken this character more like the person who selected it. She thought the main character was just a rich whiny kid. An "affluenza" victim, more or less. So her expectations were clearly very much different than mine, so she didn't experience that dissonance that I went through with it.

That's something worth remembering as you read, and as you recommend books, and as you go through conversations about books. Something as simple as expectation can change the reading experience of reading a book, sometimes completely.

I don't know precisely what the point was for this, but I've been thinking about this a lot lately and wanted to get it out. Hopefully I wasn't too boring for you.


Monday, April 13, 2020

New Release: Elemental Disturbance

Yes, at long last, the next Office of Preternatural Affairs is finally available. Say hello to Dash and the other spooks in Elemental Disturbance!

World-ending poison snake? No problem.
Illegal drugs filtering out of the Hidden Kingdoms? Piece of cake.
Bureaucracy? Even the Office of Preternatural Affairs has limits.

Dashiel Rourke: just another FBI agent, except he happens to work for the Office of Preternatural Affairs. Full-time now, too. Not exactly the career trajectory he'd charted for himself, but about the third time you get poisoned with the same group of people, you’re obligated to stick around. And honestly, Dash couldn't think of anyone he'd rather get poisoned next to.

A series of mysterious, elemental explosions draw Dash and the OPA up to Vermont, and down into an ancient conspiracy so deep it threatens the very balance of the Hidden Kingdoms, and possibly the fate of the Mundane as well. All this, plus the FBI director breathing down their collective necks, watching every move they make. It's a bitter cocktail, and Dash was never much for drinking anyway.

If there's an answer to fix all of this, the OPA needs to find it. Fast. Or else millennia-old fury will break through, and there won't be a dam to hold back the flood.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

2020 Plans for The Voss

Hey everyone.

In my last post, I said that I'd tell you what I'm working on at the moment, and I do my best to be a man of my word, so thus I present: the plan.

Now there's no reason to think this plan won't change. I'm nothing if not easily distracted, so if a new idea becomes shiny enough, who knows whether I'll actually stick to this or not. It's just the reality of living up inside my braincase. However, this is my moderately ambitious set of plans for the coming year. Want to start the decade off strong, after all.

I will be putting out Elemental Disturbance in early 2020. It's currently next on the editing queue for another pass, and I've already been in contact with my cover artist. While I can't share any actual images at the moment, I have seen the preliminary cover for book two. She got so excited that she just made me one before I ever asked and said "Does this work?"

And it works. I'll share it out as soon as I can.

I also have OPA book 3 incoming. I haven't settled on a title quite yet, but right now it's called Sovereign Malpractice. That's written, but hasn't seen a lick of editing.

I also have a couple of novellas, including one set in the same world as The Psychic, that are tentatively on the list. But really, 2020 is the year of the Office of Preternatural Affairs over here. However, I also do a lot of short stories. I have one that's already due to come out in 1st quarter 2020 (I'll give more details once the publisher makes the announcement.), and several more making their way through. There's also a pretty good chance that I release another collection of shorts at long last, so stay on the lookout for that.

And now, if you'll allow me to get aspirational, there are a handful of things on my "I really want to do this" list for this year as well. For starters, I'd like to take a crack at editing an anthology. I would also really like to put out a non-fiction title. I've resisted that for a long time, but I think there's finally something I feel comfortable enough writing about, something I have enough experience with that I won't feel like a complete and total fraud if I try to act like an expert.

And in my heart of hearts, I want to write an epic fantasy. Really badly a lot I want to write an epic fantasy. I doubt any that I write this year would see the light of day before December, but it's itching in my veins.

So that's my 2020 plan. What about you? What exciting projects do you plan to tackle to start the decade off right? Let me know so we can support each other…or drink vodka together. Whichever reaction is appropriate.


Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Happy New Year/2020 Reading List

Happy-Almost-End-of-the-Decade! The twenties are roaring back to life as of tomorrow, and even though I'm having a hard time coping with the fact that it's going to be 2020, I'm still here for it. I'm mostly here for it because of all the books, however. I've been really getting back into reading, in part thanks to my book club, and I'm just dying to crack into some of these new 2020 releases. While this isn't an exhaustive list by any stretch, these are, as of right now, the three books I'm most excited to read.

First is The Burning God by R.F. Kuang. The Poppy War was easily my book of the year, and is honestly vying for book of the decade spot. So of course I'm going to pick up the third of the trilogy when it comes out. I haven't been so completely engrossed in a story in a long, long time, and the bittersweet ending of the series is just around the corner.

Next is Shakespeare for Squirrels by Christopher Moore. I've said for a while now that Moore's historicals are his best work (Noir being an exception for me. It just fell a little bit flat.). The Pocket books are no exception, but the third of them promises to be the best of them all. Moore's takes on Shakespearean classics are perfection, and I can't wait to see him tackle A Midsummer Night's Dream in 2020.

Now, The Fifth Season is the other book that's vying for my Book of the Decade spot right now, so of course I'm rounding out the list with N.K. Jemisin's newest addition to her catalog, The City We Became. I've been following this book since its needlessly controversial announcement (For those that missed it, a bunch of white H.P. Lovecraft fanboys got in a tizzy because Jemisin expressed a thought.), and I've been in love with the concept the entire time. Now that it's finally here, it feels simultaneously too soon and somehow too far away. I've been obsessed with the ideas of Eldritch locations for a long time, so to see one of the modern masters of fantasy take it on is practically custom-made for me.

And that's a short and very incomplete sampling of my 2020 reading list. I'll also be finishing up The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern, and I know I'll be reading James Michener's Sayonara for my book club in January. But beyond that, the world is sort of open right now. Who knows what I'll pile in before the end of 2020?

If you're wanting a look at what I'm working on, stay tuned for that post sometime after the New Year.

Happy Revolution Day,

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

What Comes After Netflix?

Today, I'm getting weird. Hopefully you'll come along with me.

So in the 1800s, the big entertainment was theater and serialized fiction released in newspapers. There's a reason Charles Dickens's work was so damn long: he got paid by the word to release serialized stories.

Around the 1920s and 1930s, we were moving into the age of film, and 1927 was the first "talkie" released in the cinema.

By the 40s and 50s, serialized fiction was already on the way out, and instead we had the rise of fiction magazines and pulp novels.

The 50s and 60s saw the rise of home television and the death of road shows and the grand Hollywood musical. The 70s and 80s brought us home movies and the first ability to record from our televisions. 90s and 00s? The rise of the internet and the final death throes of the magazine industry.

Now our entertainment is, surprising no one, in flux. Theatre exists, but is now purely for the elite. Magazines basically have to give their issues away for free in an attempt to make money...somehow. Big publishing is in a constant struggle with indie publishing for books. Ebooks...are a thing.

And our TV and movie watching is steadily being replaced more and more by streaming services. Most of my generation (Millennials) are fine having no "actual TV," and instead just have whatever combination of streaming services works for them.

(If you're curious, my "perfect mix" would be Netflix, Crunchyroll, Disney+, and DC Universe.)

With all that in mind, I find myself wondering...what comes after Netflix? Right now, not only are we solidly in the "Netflix Era" of visual media, but we're also at the point where every new subscription/feed/streaming/borrowing service is compared to Netflix. Kindle Unlimited is the "Netflix of books." Music streaming largely came before ubiquitous video streaming, but I've still heard folks describe things like Spotify as "Netflix for music."

So when everything is Netflix...what do we think comes next? What happens after streaming falls by the wayside?

I have some thoughts, and most of them are half-baked at best. I'm imagining a YouTube-style platform for books. You can read X-amount of pages, then you have to watch an ad. I'm not saying that's a good thing, but I can certainly see it happening that way.

I can easily imagine a future where magazines have no choice but to condense themselves down or find new ways to bring in ad revenue.

I also think (This is my least half-baked idea.) that media is going to have to condense as a whole. A magazine will include music and video, that sort of thing. We're no longer going to have such stark delineations between different types of media.

But those are just my thoughts, however. Where do you see our media consumption going? Let me know in the I can shamelessly steal them and try to get ahead of the curve.


Friday, June 28, 2019

Toxic Influence: New Release

Hello hello! I know it's been a hot minute, but I have a new book out at long last.

Dashiel Rourke: sarcastic, questions authority - that's what my higher-ups say, anyway - and the newest member of the Office of Preternatural Affairs. Yeah, like I saw that one coming. I was a counterterrorism grunt and my own department head barely knew my name before things went to hell.

Now my partner's a troll, I've got a hag fixing up my wounds, and the bad guys can light me on fire with their brains. Or worse. The poison gas attacks I was checking out before I got into this mess? Turns out they were a little less terrorist attack and a little more magic spell.

So even if it's just for that reason, I'm going to see this one through. I got into that poison. I've seen what it does to people. Like hell am I going to lie down and let it run its course…even if that does put me up close and personal with one sorcerer too many.

It's 3.99, or free in Kindle Unlimited. Click the link below to check it out.