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My Epic Confusion Schedule – Jan 20-22

For some bizarre reason, I agreed to attend a con this year – my first actual attendance (instead of a drive-by) as somebody who actually, you know, wrote some books.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been social, so I’m looking forward to meeting and re-connecting with folks I haven’t seen in years. If you’d like to see me rant about all sorts of crazy things I like to rant about, or just sign a book, or just want to say hello, here’s where I’ll be:

7pm, Friday Salon G: Race, Class, and Gender

Steve Piziks, Kameron Hurley, Kristine Smith, Sarah Zettel, Jay Lake

11am, Saturday Salon H: Killer Parties (yes, the sort that kill people! kh)
Kameron Hurley, Cat Rambo, Steve Buchheit, Myke Cole, Michelle Sagara West

4pm, Saturday Salon F: Non-Western Fantasy

Peter V. Brett, Kameron Hurley, Christian Klaver, Howard Andrew Jones, Saladin Ahmed

5pm, Saturday Salon E: Mass Autograph Session

 11am, Sunday: Reading. Michelle Sagara West, Kameron Hurley (PLEASE COME! I shall bring a sneak peak of RAPTURE. And possibly give away a copy of GOD’S WAR)

1pm, Sunday Salon F: Women in Combat
Carrie Harris, Jim Hines, Kristine Smith, Scott Lynch, Kameron Hurley


How I went from working out 20 minutes a day to 90-100 minutes a day (and liked it)

It’s no secret that the last year has been a rough one for me as far as getting back on the fitness train. I have a real hard time staying at my much-needed 90 minutes a day minimum workout time.

It felt so daunting this year that just getting in 20 minutes on the bike a couple times a week counted as a win. Getting in 10 minutes of weights in the morning was just… agony. Churning out 90 minutes a day in fitness, for me, was like trying to churn out three thousand words a day in writing was for me not long ago – total agony.

But over the last few weeks, all that stutter-stop finally changed. I’ve been consistently getting in 60-100 minutes of fitness time each day, at least 5 days a week, and I’ve even started putting in 20-45 minutes on the weekends.

Here are some of the tricks that helped me turn the corner:

1) I like fitness videos. I have a whole library of them. The trouble is, you do them enough and they get achingly monotonous. It’s not that I couldn’t do that 15 minute video in the morning, it was just that the thought of doing it felt like too much to ingest at 5:30 in the morning. And 30 minutes? 40 minutes? Yeah, at 5:30 a.m., that’s just laughable.

I realized a while back that because I’d done these so many times, I didn’t need to listen to the sound, so I listened to music instead. But that only worked for so many minutes, because invariably, I’d listen to the same kind of music, too. It was monotony multiplied.

Instead, I decided to try listening to podcasts while I worked out. Audio books can work for this, too. The idea was to give my mind something else to occupy itself with besides the grinding monotony or how tough certain exercises were, or how tired I was. I needed a brain exercise that could trick my mind into staying busy so it didn’t obsess over what my body was doing.

And, sure enough, I went from throwing tantrums about having to workout 15 minutes in the morning to working out 30-40 minutes in the morning with ease. Time just clipped along, and before I knew it, I was fitter and more informed. Now I’m rolling out of bed in the morning actually looking forward to the a.m. workout instead of looking at it like something to dread.

2) If you have Netflix, you can stream it on your phone. Most folks who have Netflix know this, but sneer at the idea of watching something on such a small screen. Well, guess what? When you’re working out at a gym that doesn’t have little TV’s in the readout, this is an absolute lifesaver.

I was working out at my day job gym a couple times a week for 20-30 minutes, really struggling every time. Then I remembered Netflix had come out with its Android app.

Literally overnight, I went from doing 20-30 minutes to 50-60 minutes on the elliptical each workday. There are plenty of long-running shows to choose from. Start at season one, episode one, and dig in. I’ve already started associating midday and evening workout routines with the pleasure of catching up on my favorite shows.

3) I like video games. I also need to workout. But, as yet, I don’t have a Kinect, just a Wii Fit with the same half dozen games that I’ve gotten sick of. But if you have something like a stationary bike at home (much more compact and easy to manage in a house my size than our old elliptical was), park it in front of your TV and play video games to help take your mind off the burn.

I’m slowly working my way through God of War III when I’m not ingesting massive amounts of serial TV (we don’t actually have proper TV programming in my house, just Netflix. That means I don’t watch any season of anything until it shows up there, so I tend to get it in bulk).

4) Whenever I thought “fuck, I need to workout for 90 minutes. Where the hell can I find 90 minutes? How can I keep going for 90 minutes?” I just got discouraged. Instead, I break it up. I do 30 minutes in the morning, 30-60 minutes at the day job gym, and another 30-45 on the exercise bike when I get home. By breaking it up into chunks, there’s no one workout that feels like 90 minutes of death.

This being Friday, and wanting to having the full sum of my Friday night for leisure, I already got in my 90 (30 this morning, 60 at the day job gym), so when I get home, I don’t even have to concern myself with the extra evening workout unless I feel like it.

Now, all of the above is primarily cardio work, with some strength training in the morning mixed in. When I finally get to the heavy lifting stuff, I intend for that to be on top of what I’m already doing, but I’m sure that if I can figure out how to be active 2-3 hours a day instead of just 90 minutes as a sedentary writer-type -you’ll be the first to know.

 

Typing into 2012: What’s Happening This Year in the Writing Life

I’m not much of a year-end wrap-up person. A lot of shit went down in 2011. After a whole lot of years of writing, my first two books – GOD’S WAR and INFIDEL – were published. I blogged most weeks over at The Night Bazaar with some great debut authors. I settled into a great house and fantastic new day job, picked up a little freelancing work, and mostly-sorta got my shit together. But it wasn’t until the last few months of the year that I finally started to get into a regular writing and fitness regime again that didn’t make me want to weep regularly.

In 2012, my big focus is on those two parts of my life. In life, as in writing, I’m always trying to work on the stuff that sucks. So this year I’m teaching myself to writer faster, better books and get back to making fitness a daily top priority in my life. No more 20 minutes of X three days a week and I’m done. It’s back to 60-90 minutes a day, six days a week, which I’ve been doing a lot better at the last few months, but it’s going to take some time to make it a habit again.

My third book, RAPTURE, is due to my editor on April 30th (hoping to have that done sooner, as I’ve nearly got a draft now) and should come out in fall of 2012. I’m also gunning to have a draft of my bloody, epic legion-of-world-ships/warring families saga, tentatively titled IRON QUEEN done by the end of the year.

That’s a lot for me to pull out of my ass this year, I won’t lie. With the first part of this year taken up with writing, the fall spent marketing RAPTURE, and the winter for finishing my next book, well… I intend to spend a lot of time in the trenches. For Christmas, J. got me $50 in gift certificates to my favorite local coffeehouse, as it appears I may be spending quite a bit of time there.

Sadly, this will not be the Year of Travel, either. I have a fence to build this year around our 1/3rd acre yard which ain’t going to come cheap (in fact, it will eat all of my writing income for 2012). I will miss stuff like Vegas, and J. and I continue to put off trips to Egypt and China due to one thing or another.

That also means that I’m likely only going to do one con this year – ConFusion, which is happening the weekend of January 22nd up in Detroit. It’s a three and a half hour drive, and already in the hopper. I’ll post my panel schedule here as soon as it comes out.

It’s going to be a hard, busy year, but that’s only because I have so much more to build on last year’s accomplishments. Publishing books is nice and all, but success, to me, is about more than seeing my book at B&N now. It’s about writing better – and better-read – books year after year.

Cheers to that.

“A writer is someone for whom writing is harder than it is for other people”

Writing is a lot of work. Oh, I always knew that, of course, but writing a book over 2, 3, 5 or 7 years stretches all that work out and makes it feel like a lot less.

Or at least a lot less all at once.

I was about halfway done with RAPTURE when I got official word that my publisher wanted it. However, they also wanted it in early 2012 so we could make a late 2012 release date and keep me on the book-a-year schedule that’s seen as so desirable these days.

Lest you think it’s merely desirable for a publisher so they can push product, think on this: today, our attention spans are shorter than ever. If you’re a writer who isn’t being talked about at least every few months, you’re going to end up in obscurity rather quickly. Writing and marketing a book a year, and putting out short fiction, and all the rest, is the only way to stay top of mind. Having a backlog of books at some point may help me, but right now I feel like I’m fighting for market share in a rapidly cluttered marketplace.

So I have a draft due March 1st, but am pushing to get my own rough draft done by January 1st so I can spend at least a couple months mulling and revising. There’s nothing worse than a book that’s obviously been rushed out the door and ill-thought-out. These books in particular live or die based on my own knee-jerk laziness. If you knew the kind of Crazy that went into the first drafts of both GOD’S WAR and INFIDEL, you would weep (I did).

So that two month down time to ruminate over a complete draft is vital for the book, and my sanity.

What’s not so great for my sanity is that that meant I needed to write the draft of the second half of the book in about three months. I’d been muddling with the first half for about a year. The thing is, it’s a lot easier for me to focus on finishing a book when I have a deadline. Books will fill all the time I give them. I needed the deadline.

But I won’t lie – the long, slogging march to the end is brutal.

I am tired, and cranky, and not devoting enough time to loved ones and hobbies and fitness and book marketing. I have a day job that pays the bills and takes up a lot of writing time/brain energy – I wrote a lot of day job words last month in addition to fiction words – and looking at the cost/benefit to my writing time at the day job vs. the fiction is… sobering.

I told J. that it felt like, the last couple of months, all I was doing was working. To which he replied… well, that’s because all you are doing is working. Even when I sat down the other night to watch a show about combat training on Netflix while eating dinner, I was taking notes, and trying to figure out at which point in the training regime each of my characters would drop out (it tells you a lot about a person).

I am not dying, mind you. It’s not like I’m doing heavy labor sixty hours a week, but it’s… taxing. My brain is tired, squeezed dry like a rancid sponge. I have a week off at Christmas, which I will be spending the same way I spent my week off at Thanksgiving… writing.

You wouldn’t believe just how much of the wild writing life involves… writing.

Imagine that.

And when the draft is done, it’s off to the library again to fill my brain back up so I can flesh out some of the lazy worldbuilding hand-wavey filler I’ve got in here to tide me over until I have the headspace to create actual scenery that doesn’t look like, say, the house I live in.

Which is where I am spending a lot of time these days.

It’s a good thing I really like my house.

I’m doing all of this with the knowledge that there are a whole lot of writers who work a lot harder than me. Many of them who also have day jobs and families to juggle. Watching them write 2-3 books a year and a bunch of short fiction and win a bunch of awards and not fall over is… disheartening. I feel like I should be able to squeeze out more. My brain should be more robust. I should be better able to juggle everything.

Instead, I’m watching other projects slide away and prioritizing my book over… well, everything. My only reprieve is working out to episodes of Bones or The Biggest Loser or Star Trek and tuning out for 60-90 minutes. Even reading feels like a guilty indulgence, as every time I get into bed, I feel like I should have my laptop with me so I can bang out a few more words.

There is some good stuff in this book, and seeing a montage of all three covers on my computer desktop makes me immensely proud. But this is not a profession for people who just want to sit on the beach in Maui all day sipping pina coladas. Working on my third contracted book has resulted in far less patience for people who say they want to be writers, or who come to me looking for “advice” on how they can live the writing life of “ease and convenience.”

All I want to do right now is yell at these people.

I’m often reminded of something Sam Delaney wrote, about how he had always prioritized his writing over his partners, and his health. I gave up everything to write for most of my roaring 20’s, and though it eventually got me a novel contract, I was an incredibly unhappy person.

I’m a lot happier now, but even more introverted, because in addition to writing, and having a partner, and managing a household and day job career, I’m also spending a lot of headspace managing a chronic illness. In order to go back to living in Nyx-land forever, I’d have to throw all of that out again.

Some of that is doable. Some of it is not.

But even then…. would it be worth it? I look at book sales and book checks right now, and to me, well – it really isn’t. This is a heartbreaking, competitive, and exhausting profession. You have to really love it to do it, and you have to know how to prioritize it in order to carry on.

So don’t ever come to me and tell me you want a quick fix, an easy way to make money. Don’t tell me writing is the best thing in the whole world… but only when you feel like it. Don’t tell me that if you “had the time” you would “be a writer” too.

No one has the time. No one’s sitting on a beach. Nobody gets a quick fix.

I am tired. And I have a book to finish. And there are some nights I want to cry about it.

Because at the end of the day, despite the angst, and the despair, and the wallowing – I really want to be a successful writer. I want to be good at it. And tell lots of stories. It’s all I ever wanted.

Turns out I got a lot more besides that to work toward, now.

It’s figuring out how to have everything without epically failing at all of it that’s the struggle.

Stories From Another Country: Tales of wartime, immigration, and assimilation

Today, I’ve got a guest post up over at The Ranting Dragon reviews site.

Stories From Another Country

When I was growing up, the holidays meant family gatherings over rich food slathered in buttery sauces and familiar stories of life during wartime in another country.

My grandmother grew up in Nazi-occupied France, and met my grandfather, an American GI, during the liberation. Her father was part of the French resistance, and one of her most nail-biting stories was that of the evening when two members of the Gestapo showed up at her door asking questions about her father….read the rest

It’s not the strongest who survive… it’s those most adaptable to change

For my first book, GOD’S WAR, I had two rounds of copy edits. One from my original publisher who ended up dropping the series right before it went to layout, and a second round from Night Shade. Both were sent to me in dead tree form. They were bulky, heavy things, but ultimately quite satisfying to go over. It was what I’d been used to. I have been writing and editing copy for nearly twenty years, and I’ve always printed it out and edited it that way.

But when I switched day jobs in March, I was pulled into a system that had already become largely paperless. Everything was done with email and marked-up PDF’s. That’s PDF’s marked up with the actual electronic mark-up tools. Much of the proofing team and nearly all of the Brand Managers marked up changes to documents with Adobe. I got used to reviewing changes in Adobe and making my own within it pretty quickly. I also got used to reviewing electronic proofs for projects.

After reviewing your initial thirty or fifty projects this way, you get used to it. So when my publisher sent me copyedits for INFIDEL in electronic form, I knew I had two choices – I could print it out, mark it up, and then send it back to them at my own expense. Or I could grit my teeth, pull out my pro version of Adobe, markup changes electronically and send them the marked-up PDF. I knew sending it via email was going to be a lot faster, too. So when they said to get it to them by Friday, it didn’t mean sending it out by Wednesday anymore. It meant emailing it to them on Friday. If you’re a writer on a deadline, those two extra days are golden.

I’m not saying it wasn’t a tough thing to do, getting used to detailed reading on a damn screen, but there’s a reason I invested in a 24” HD monitor. Postal costs are going up, publishing revenues are down, and people are looking for ways to cut costs. One of those ways is to stop fucking sending boxes of 1,000 manuscript pages across the country. Oh, sure, you can be one of those old hold-outs and just print it out at your own expense and ship it back out of your own pocket. Go for it. But pretty soon, only the old eccentrics are going to be able to get away with that – the ones who sell a bazillion copies and fuck you to everyone who tells them how to write.

“But what about my process?” I keep hearing people say. “I have to print things out. I must do it my way.” That’s cool. Do it your way. For much of the foreseeable future, I will continue to print out book drafts and edit them that way before they go to my publisher, because I tend to write my book scenes out of order, and it’s easier for me to see what goes where when I have the physical pages to move around. Maybe someday I’ll have a giant, interactive, 6ft tall whiteboard-like display screen on my wall that allows me to physically move and manipulate pages. I’d totally be down with that. But until it comes, I’ll be killing trees awhile yet. But for now, it behooves me to ensure that I send the cleanest copy possible to my publisher on the first go-round, because the odds are we’re likely going to be copyediting stuff totally electronically from now on.

Here’s the thing when I hear a lot of people complaining about changes in publishing, and production, and process. It reminds me of this actor I worked with in high school who made us change one of the intermission songs because it was “interfering with my process.” They just couldn’t concentrate and “get into character” properly back stage if that song was playing. We also had to turn down the intermission music. As the actor was one of our best, we did everything they asked – despite the fact that every single other actor in the show managed to somehow put out a great performance under the same constraints.  Whenever I hear this stuff, I think, “Wow. How are you going to be able to deal with the real world when you’re not getting your perks? Are you going to be able to perform at all?

I follow a lot of professionals in writing, publishing, and dayjobbery, and it terrifies the crap out of me that so many are change-phobic. I don’t just mean technology here, either, but change of all sorts. Changes to process, to expectations, to markets. At the end of the day, the only constant is change, and our greatest asset is our ability to successfully adapt to that change. And that’s not going to happen if we look at something new and – instead of poking around at it to see the benefit or figure out how to make it work for us – we simply say “fuck you.”

Things are changing rapidly out there, and I know that in order to compete, I have to scramble to keep up. One of the big reasons I’m not unemployed right now is because – a couple day jobs back – my boss and the president of the company insisted that I learn how to use social media to drive business/engagement. This made me really angry. I raged against it. I wanted nothing to do with constant mentions and monitorings, but I already had a blog and various social accounts for personal use, and I was in the best position to take it on. So I did. I took responsibility for it and kicked and screamed my way into it. And you know what? In every job since then, the fact that I had experience building social audiences and creating content on various platforms was a huge deciding factor in getting the position.

Will being a flexible non-technophobe help my fiction writing career? Who knows. It’s traditionally a very slow and conservative sort of place, which is why the death bells had to start in before folks began to make any serious changes. There is going to be a lot of crazy stuff going on in this industry as it struggles to change and adapt and catch up. And as the folks who create the content in that industry, we’re going to be asked to change and adapt too.

And the ones who will be successful? I hate to say it, but – the ones who succeed are most likely going to be the ones most adaptable to change. Even if they have to hurl themselves headlong into it kicking and screaming.

Whose View? Unpacking POV Book by Bloody Book

When I first starting writing (yanno, back when I was twelve), I didn’t know much about writing point-of-view (POV), so everything was just omniscient, the way it seemed to be in most myths and fairytales and a good deal of older movies with narration attached. The narrator could just tell you what everyone was feeling, and wax on about the history of the world, and it was great.

But as I got older and started paying critical attention to what I was reading, I learned more about POV. What I thought I was writing, it turned out, wasn’t what I was writing. In fact, it wasn’t so much omniscient as it was just head-hopping between characters with no real transitions (or method to the madness). I was relating things as they occurred to me, instead of as they occurred to the characters.

Like most folks these days, I eventually fell into the rhythm of first person and close third person, and started using scene and chapter breaks to distinguish between POV shifts. It was easier this way – a lot less messy than mid-sentence head-hopping or the kind of overaching historian-as-narrator with third person style that I do hope to achieve one day for some epic project.

But with the last couple of books, sticking to close third POV and forcing myself to switch chapters every time we switch POV characters got frustrating, and made pacing really, really difficult. I broke this a couple of times with switches within chapters indicated with scene breaks in INFIDEL, but it didn’t happen often, because I was really on edge about doing it. Looking back, I’m kinda pissed that I hadn’t worked in this angle earlier in the last book, particularly there at the end during a climactic scene where we really, really needed a Rhys POV in there so he could get some closure (and to act as a nice setup for some stuff going on in book three that I’m writing now). But, alas, I chose to stick with a Nyx POV throughout, and now I regret it.

So this time around I’m working on putting together a more fluid POV experience, because I believe it will make for a more powerful and engaging book. The idea is to build the main-and-sub character POVs into earlier chapters, and then start head-hopping-with-scene-breaks instead of chapter breaks during select scenes so I can hit climactic scenes from multiple angles. Nyx is a tough character to get a handle on because she’s cut herself off so much from people, and human stuff like… feelings. Writing too much Nyx all at once gets really distancing and depressing for me really fast, and I imagine that if I wrote a whole book from a Nyx POV, a lot more readers would be throwing these books across the room in frustration.

Though there are plenty of books that do this amount of head-hopping, my template for this approach right now is actually Joe Abercrombie’s Best Served Cold. I’ve gone on about this book a lot, because it achieves a lot of what I was hoping to achieve in the first Nyx book when it comes to plot and POV. I’m not a fan of what I call “fan-fiction-y” moments, that is, when characters go on and on for pages just being themselves without advancing the plot, but I recognize that it also humanizes the characters and makes them a lot more lovable (even the shitty ones) than they would be otherwise. More than that, though, head-hopping during climactic scenes makes for a far more suspenseful read than just narrowly sticking to one viewpoint.

The key to viewpoint is to tell each scene from the perspective of the person who hurts the most. And when you’ve got a scene stuffed with different pain points for different characters, the head-hopping just makes sense. The tough part is successfully moving POV’s without losing a reader’s focus, or sacrificing pacing. If your whole book is Nyx/Rhys/Nyx/Rhys/Nyx/Rhys and all the sudden you’ve got a chapter with Nyx/Rhys/Inaya/Eshe/Suha/Anneke viewpoints, that’s a problem. So there’s a plot and pacing thing I need to address as I go along.

This requires a lot more planning than I’m used to, but if I do this right, RAPTURE is going to be much more the sort of book I envisioned GOD’S WAR to be than the one I actually got. Not the GW is all bad, mind, it’s just… different than what I expected to put together.

My goal with each book is to become a technically more powerful writer with every one. That means getting better at everything, not just the stuff I’m bad at (like plot and grammar), but also the stuff I’m good at but could always be better at (setting, characters).

I think there’s this odd expectation in some circles that once you publish a book, that’s it. You’re just going to coast on now writing the same way you always did, and you don’t have to push or improve or anything. For better or worse, it just doesn’t work that way these days. Aside from the personal drive to be better, there’s also a big professional one. Publishers are dropping authors and books left and right, and everybody’s looking for that “breakout book” – the one that gets you from selling 5,000 copies to 50,000 or 100,000 copies. If you’re not getting better and growing your audience, then get ready to change your name or switch to a really small press. That’s just the reality of the biz these days.

So. Depressing.

But, hey, on  the upside I have no interest in writing the same book over and over again, and I enjoy getting better, that that works for me. That’s another reason this is the last Nyx book (oh, I’m sure they’ll be some free shorts in the future, but I’m done with Nyx at length). When you’ve learned all you can from one project, it’s time to move on to the next…. and I can’t wait to apply all the stuff I’m learning while writing these books to my next project.

Starting, of course, with this bloody little book I’m writing now.

RAPTURE: The End is Nigh!

In case you missed it yesterday, I’ve gotten official word that Night Shade Books will be publishing the third and final book of the Bel Dame Apocrypha, RAPTURE in late 2012.

This is wonderfully great and rather surreal news. It also means I now have a book due March 1st (eeeeeyyyyaaaaah).

My mom recently asked how I was digesting the flurry of good writing news: two books published this year, contracted for another next year, good reviews, positive feedback, paying off debt, and etc.

The answer is, I’m not as lighter-than-air-happy-go-lucky as you might think. The trouble is, I know a lot of professional writers who have been doing this a good long while, and I know how brutal this business is. It’s not all million dollar contracts and movie deals. I have a long road ahead of me, and probably the biggest, toughest job of all for the rest of my life – the job of staying relevant and maintaining momentum in an increasingly crowded marketplace. It means I need to write at least a book a year – a GOOD book a year – and stay on top of continued markety-type stuff. And I need decent (and preferably, ever-increasing) sales numbers to make the little book computers happy so I don’t have to change my name.

Not losing momentum is tough, and I don’t expect that I’ll achieve this all the time – there’s something to be said for a spectacular failure and a comeback. But right now I’m just powering through as best I can. Most of the time, it feels like I’m juggling a lot of plates. There’s my day job career that pays the bills and the health insurance, and then there’s the books and that whole other career, and then there’s freelancing work, which helps pay off debt, and then there’s the daily living stuff, like remembering to feed the dogs and cook food and maintain the house and try to be a good partner. I’ve got that whole chronic illness thing to manage, too, and regular workouts and trying not to let my fitness slide.

And of course, there’s the huge investments in being a better person that have fallen by the wayside in recent years – there’s the French lessons and boxing classes and world traveling and other brain-enrichment activities that help me stay sharp. Those are the things I’ve had to led slide, because I only had so many spoons at hand.

This kind of juggling will make you crazy if you think too much about it, so I try to take it one thing at a time. First comes RAPTURE, then the space opera, then another series. First comes food prep, then cleaning up dog vomit, then painting the porch.

I’m not particularly sure how I’m going to do all this, or how well I’ll do at it, or when I’ll fail at it, but for now I’m just going to keep barreling along until I crash into something. It’s all you can do, really.

Fall down seven times. Get up eight.

And all that.

*Image credit is from Bioshock: 2, of course! What? Hey, they also have a RAPTURE title, cause they are AWESOME.

Is Novel Writing Really Just a Pyramid Scheme?

I guess it shouldn’t be odd that such a high percentage of the people who buy books are people who want to be writers. After all, there must be a pretty big percentage of video game players who think it’d be a lot of fun to create video games. Loving an art form often means you’re interested in creating it (not necessarily that you’re any good at it, or understand the sweat involved, but love does lead one to dally in such thoughts).

While I was on vacation last week, another vacationer stopped by our breakfast table at our resort and commented on J’s shirt (she was just the first of about half a dozen who commented on it that day. It features the heads of four presidents, one with a monocle, with a collective dialogue bubble over their heads that says “TMBG.” People love trying to figure out what “TMBG” stands for). At any rate, after commenting on the shirt, she looked over at me, with my spiky 80’s haircut and bug necklace, and announced that we “Looked like steampunks.”

Geeks, as ever, are very good at finding their own, and so we talked cons and exchanged book recommendations. She recommended a book I’d never heard of right off, and wrote it down on a napkin, which I tucked away. J, being a better salesman than I, recommended GOD’S WAR (without mentioning I was the author), which she said she’d actually heard of (!). I also had the forethought to recommend HEART OF VERIDON by Tim Akers, but forgot about MECHANIQUE by Genevieve Valentine. Oh well. Next time.

At any rate, I felt a tad guilty about J. recommending my book to some random person at the breakfast table, though my parents have been shamelessly promoting the book by leaving it around at hair salons and giving it to restaurant staff who profess a love of SF (!).

But then we got home, and J. did a little googling of the title the woman had recommended…. and guess what?

It turns out it’s a self-published novel (which is why I hadn’t heard of it) and (drumroll) she was, of course, the author of said book.

Here we were, two strangers on vacation, covertly recommending one another’s books to each other.

Oh, fictionverse – you wacky pyramid scheme, you.