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Posts Tagged ‘Updates’

2018 in Review: Writers Do Things

I put off doing all my year-end admin, mainly because I wanted to have a couple of days that were actually days off, and then because I’ve been head down working on The Broken Heavens and then my latest Patreon story there at the month’s end.

Year-end is a time of reflection for good reason. When you get to the end of a year during the coldest, darkest time of year, it can feel like you did absolutely nothing.

So, to dispell that notion, here’s some shit that got done despite 2018’s desire to murder me:

Kameron Hurley Does Things

  1. Released Apocalypse Nyx, a collection of Nyx novellas
  2. Finished writing The Light Brigade
  3. Wrote twelve short stories for Patreon (one every month! Whew, and you can read the whole set for as low as $1 here):
  • Monsters Do Not Die Quietly (a Nyx adventure)
  • Among the Chosen Girls
  • The Woman’s Art of War
  • Powder Burns
  • Citizens of Elsewhen
  • Echo Echo Echo Echo
  • Corpse Soldier (a Nev adventure)
  • We Burn
  • Flicker
  • Glottal’s Gift: An intergalactic fairytale
  • The Conclave of Ravens (a Nyx adventure)

4. Held down my day job, and did a couple of campaigns I’m particularly proud of

5. Resolved a five-year-old publishing dispute (mostly my agent did this)

6. Got together all the paperwork for Canadian residency application (except that goddamn piece from South Africa – hello 2019)

7. Traveled to Spain for Celcius Festival and three city book tour stuff (holy shit that was THIS year)

8. Traveled to Aspen, CO as GOH at Sirens.

9. The Stars are Legion was published in France – my first appearance in French!

10. Turned down doing a Star Wars novel (sorry, fam – those deadlines are not for people with day jobs)

11. Wrote six columns for Locus magazine

12. Produced five more episodes of Get to Work Hurley

13. Paid off my LAST student loan!!

Overall, there were some less-fun adventures in adulting this year, including my spouse taking over sole guardianship for his grandmother, which adds an additional crunch on us financially, and alas, further complicates the whole “run away to Canada” plan I had that was going to get me the writing-full-time-by-the-time-I’m-40 dream. I’m soothing my adulting angst by spending more time at the gym again, and trying to at least get another dog out of this because at this point, dogs are therapy.

Occasionally I get really pissed off about having to work twelve jobs just to live something close to the middle class life my parents had, and I grouse and grumble and then I yell aloud, “Life isn’t fair, princess!”

The fact that I JUST paid off my student loan and then picked up family care bills is not lost on me. And we haven’t even started in on taking care of our own parents yet, which… lord. And they wonder why millenials don’t seem to have any retirement or disposable income? By the time our student loans are paid off we have to start caring for our parents, and our health insurance premiums and medical bills are basically a mortgage payment every month in and of themselves.

Welcome to the millenial adulting dream!

But the truth is we’re in a place where we CAN help with these things, and that part is good, I suppose. I’m not dead yet. I’m writing great books, each one better than the last.

Onward, and onward.

Not dead yet.

 

Pupdate: The Staph Infection that Keeps On Giving

Last time…. well, here’s the summary of our dog Drake’s situation up to this point.

Folks on Twitter have been hearing that we’re back to being in and out of the vet ER again, so here’s the update on what’s happened since that post. Drake had been in the clear for weeks, and was steadily improving the amount he walked. We got rid of the baby gates in the living room and let him have free reign of the downstairs, even if he still needed a lot of prompting to get up on his own. We were taking him on 3-4 walks a day of about four blocks each. He still wasn’t up to climbing the steps up into the house, so hauling him in was still a pain, but hey, progress! After marked improvement for several weeks, he suddenly started stumbling more on the walks. He got more stubborn, and wouldn’t want to walk more than about a block without a lot of cajoling on our part (he’s 150 lbs; you either convince him or you don’t). Then he would stumble and fall down. Not just on his butt, but completely sink to the ground from all fours. This was worrisome.

So when my spouse took him in for what was supposed to be his final check after the double-ACL surgery, my spouse mentioned this, and the doctor went ahead and did an xray not just of Drake’s legs, but also of his spine, and ran some more bloodwork to see if the infection was, in fact, still active but not showing outward signs.

Sure enough, when the doctor brought back the xrays, there was a terrible mess in part of his spine; the bone there was clearly disintegrating in the area right below where he had gotten both of his epidurals for the surgeries. The bloodwork confirmed it a few days later. Turns out, then, that the staph infection had traveled from his skin via the huge needle and implanted itself into his spine. So though his legs were better, the infection was still hiding out there doing damage, which is why he was falling over – his damaged spin was pinching his nerves. This was also why he did better when we gave him anti-inflammatories, because it reduced the swelling in his spine and made it easier to walk.

The doctor noted that the LAST thing we wanted to do was cut this dog open again (I kept being reminded of that episode of Babylon 5 where the aliens are like “You can’t cut open our son or he’ll lose his soul”). Typically, getting rid of an infection in the spine could mean anywhere from three to six months of continued antibiotics, after which we could strengthen Drake’s spine using steroids, which was a relatively low cost solution to the spine damage (the surgery option to fix his spine is actually a very easy one, apparently. We just can’t cut this dog open again). This was a problem, of course, because as stated previous, we’d already been through seven kinds of antibiotics, and the one the doctor said would be most effective was the one that made Drake so sick that he stopped eating or drinking for a week and we had to discontinue it. The doctor was insistent we go back on it, though. You can imagine how that turned out.

To the doctor’s credit, Drake lasted about three week on that antibiotic before he stopped eating again, conveniently while my spouse was out enjoying his time at Origins in Columbus and I was tasked with dog duty. Not wanting to let my spouse down (he has been primary dog caregiver, because he is a saint), I must have tried everything in the damn fridge over those three days trying to get Drake to take his meds. Tuna was the go-to on Friday night, but that was the last time we were able to get anything but a few scraps of chicken into him for several days. On Sunday, my spouse was back home, and got Drake a new medication, and pilled Drake a few times with an EIGHTH… or maybe NINTH antibiotic (the only one we have never tried. We are officially out). This one made Drake’s stomach sick too, though, so we just discontinued everything. Yesterday we were able to get him to eat some bread.

We went back to the vet today and agreed to go back to the expensive injectable antibiotic that we’d had to discontinue because his system could no longer handle it. Apparently you can start over with these after a break and do them again until one’s system can’t handle it anymore. If you ever get an antibiotic resistant staph infection, well, here’s the hell that you are in for. So the idea is that we cycle him on this antibiotic for a week, then switch back to the one that made him sick for two weeks, then cut off that one BEFORE he gets sick, then cycle him onto something else for a couple of weeks, and do blood tests every month to see how close we are to getting rid of the rest of the infection. With the injections, we have to take Drake into the vet clinic every day to get them, so that’s, yanno, a PITA.

So Drake had his first injection today, and tonight he took his first half block walk in nearly a week without stumbling. He ate a piece of bread and a sausage this morning, and ate about a cup of regular dog food and some wet food tonight, so that’s great. Him eating also means we’re able to put him back on pain meds and anti-inflammatories, so he’s suddenly loving life again. It’s weird to watch an animal go from death’s door awful (he was a wreck last night, limping and stumbling) to being themselves again.

At this point we just want him to get better. When you have invested the better part of seven months into surgery and caregiving for an animal that lives with you – especially one as large as Drake – the escalation of commitment is pretty huge. I sit in bed sometimes and remind myself that even after all this, he could still die. We’re cycling antibiotics and we’re out of new ones, after all. Now we just cycle and hope he can tolerate another two or three months of this.

Now that Drake is a little happier today, I’d like to end on a happy note, but I am feeling mixed about his chances. So instead I’m going to end on a different up note. At every step in this process, our vet staff said, “Wow, we’ve never seen ANYTHING like this before!” (pretty much what you NEVER want to hear from any doctor ever). They’d never had to deal with an antibiotic-resistant staph infection, as these are new and horrifying things just now coming up in our vet and human hospitals. But Drake’s situation has been a learning experience for them, too, and when they recently had a big Newfoundland dog come in that needed a double ACL surgery, they checked his skin for staph, found it, and immediately initiated a pre-surgery regimen where they shaved the dog’s legs and treated the skin with antibiotic salve every day for a week before surgery, as well as starting oral antibiotics the week before surgery.  They were going to go in and hit the infection hard and fast before it could even get started or embedded in the dog’s system the way it had Drake over all those weeks and months where we were struggling to figure out what was wrong and how to fix it.

So there’s the good story part, there, because to be dead honest, few people have the financial resources we do to get a dog through a year of this, and we were only able to do it with Patreon money, generous fan donations (THANK YOU! YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!), and pet insurance. Many other pet owners facing this kind of thing would not be able to do what we have. Now, at least, vets at this hospital will be more prepared for these types of infections in the future, and prevent or at least make it easier to combat these infections quickly instead of letting them get established.

Knowing this helps me sleep better at night. No matter what happens, someone else is going to be helped by what we went through. Sometimes that’s all you can ask for.

 

PupDate: The Long Slog to Recovery

As some of you know, last November our big dog Drake went lame in one leg. He is barely a year old, and we’d always blamed his doofy clumsiness on his rapid growth. He’s a Mastiff/Great Dane mix who was 60 pounds when we first brought him home at just five months old. Here’s a video of him and our husky, Snax, playing when we first brought him home:

Puppies playing

A video posted by Kameron Hurley (@kameronhurley) on

He doubled in size rapidly, reaching nearly 160 lbs by the time he was at about a year. At some point, though, he started being afraid to go up our stairs. No amount of treats or urging would get him to go up and down more than four steps at a time. We figured he’d developed an irrational fear of stairs. He always had some trouble getting going in the morning, but over time he got worse. We’d thought maybe his left leg would fall asleep while he laid on it at night, and that’s why he’d have trouble getting moving in the morning. After a few steps he would usually work it out.

But then, one morning he pulled himself off the couch to go outside and his entire back end just thumped onto the floor, and he whined at me. I had had growing concerns by this point, and was researching stuff like pinched nerves. I tried to help him up, but he just fell down again. When I helped him up the third time, he was in so much pain that he growled at me. This was pretty shocking, because Drake is the nicest, sweetest dog in the whole world. I’d never once heard him growl. I looped my scarf under his back end and helped him outside to do his business, but he was clearly in intense pain.

When we brought him into the vet, they gave us drugs for the pain, which helped, and had to sedate him to do an xray, because he wouldn’t let the vet touch his leg (“When I tried to touch his leg he growled at me like a dragon!” she said. Yes, he is a large dragon, our Drake). When she sedated him and examined his legs, she found that he had torn not one, but both ACL’s in his back legs. The left was likely completed shredded at this point, causing the two big bones in his leg to slide against each other, putting him in terrible pain. The right was not as bad, but would be soon.

The good news was that we had pet insurance, as Drake has always had a funny walk, and my spouse figured he was going to have some kind of leg or hip problem in the future. So even though the surgeries would be incredibly expensive, we should get 80% of it reimbursed.

What we forgot, of course, is that pet insurance is just as agonizing to deal with as people health insurance.

Drake’s first surgery went well. He had to be confined so that he couldn’t jump or get onto furniture or try and go upstairs for eight weeks. The first four weeks, his rehab schedule proceeded apace. We did everything right according to the rehab book, giving him meds right on schedule – anti-inflammatories, pain meds. We had to put heat on his leg before we took him out every day, and ice on it when he came back in. We had to do passive range of motion exercises, massages, hip sways, and walks of 5 minutes, then 10 and finally 15 minutes. Drake was up and using his left leg better than ever before. He was able to stand and walk on his own. My spouse was able to pick up the majority of this work, and let me tell you – it’s work. Drake had plenty of stamina after the first two weeks. But when we got to week 4 of this schedule, after everything going right, something went wrong.

Knee #1. 12 weeks of rehab. Oof.

A photo posted by Kameron Hurley (@kameronhurley) on

 

His left leg suddenly swelled up. The fluid in his leg sought the path of least resistance, and burst out his old suture scars, pumping fluid all over his bedding. We spent New Year’s Eve and again on New Year’s Day in the vet ER with him, trying to get answers for what was wrong. They took a culture and sent us home with antibiotics the first day, and finally wrapped up his leg the second day, which did put us on the path to recovery, finally. When the results of the culture came back, it turned out Drake had an antibiotic-resistant staph infection. They switched us to a different antibiotic, and he seemed to improve. The trouble was that at this point now we were waiting for the pet insurance to reimburse us so we could do his other surgery, and after two months, they still hadn’t. In the meantime, Drake’s other leg, with the ACL that wasn’t yet completely torn, finally gave out and tore completely, giving him one healing leg and one really bad leg to try and get around on. It became harder to get him up in them morning. He required a lot more help. We got a harness for him that has handles that give us the ability to pull up his rear end, and let me tell you, we have needed it. It got to the point where in order to get him up the stairs outside, we were hauling this dog up all four steps through sheer brute force. We were able to get him in for about two weeks of water treadmill and physical therapy, though, which helped a lot. He was finally able to stand on his own again, even if he still wasn’t up to going on long walks. It was something.

4 hour wait and basically just a bandage. Sigh.

A photo posted by Kameron Hurley (@kameronhurley) on

Finally, I got a book check, and we determined to just spend the book check on Drake’s second surgery instead of waiting for the pet insurance. The second surgery went well, and we got a whole week where everything seemed to progress normally. He was getting up on his own. He was slogging away, slowly but surely, whenever we’d bring him out.

But in week two, he took another turn for the worst. Once again, his leg swelled up. The right one we’d just had operated on, this time. We took him in and got some antibiotics and a culture done. Sure enough, it was the staph infection again. After getting through ten days of this new antibiotic with little change, they switched us to one where you had to wear gloves to give it to him, because it was toxic to humans. We figured this would be a win, and we’d knock it out.

No such luck.

He went through a whole regimen of these, all the while refusing to put weight on his right leg, and still weak in his left leg. Getting him outside three times a day, let alone get him to all his doctor’s appointments, was an ordeal. Because Drake still couldn’t get up on his own, my spouse had to stay home to care for him while I was at ICFA. At this point, they put him on a new antibiotic, trying to find something, anything, that would clear the infection. The new one, tetracycline, was very cheap, but it interfered with his other medications and gave him a horrible stomach upset that left him screaming in discomfort several times a night. He was already feeling pain from the infection in his leg, and pain from muscle wastage. If you’ve ever had to sit in bed and listen to an animal scream and know there is nothing you can do for them, you know how awful this is.

Then, when I was at ICFA, Drake stopped eating.

Our dog has always had a huge appetite. The one thing that remained constant through the whole horror was that he was eating regularly. But I noticed a couple days before I went to ICFA that he would leave his breakfast and not eat it until dinner. Once I left, my spouse said that Drake ceased eating all together. The vet gave us an appetite stimulant, but Drake wouldn’t eat anything. My spouse went through the whole pantry – chicken, peanut butter, butter, sugar, brown rice, honey, mayonnaise – everything he could think of, and Drake wouldn’t eat his pills with it. So my spouse, having worked at an animal shelter, had to pill him – basically force the pills down his throat through the back of his muzzle where there are no teeth, then hold his mouth closed until he swallowed. This was agony for both involved. This went on the entire time I was at ICFA. I was starting to wonder if I’d come home to a dying dog, or if he was already dying.

My last day of ICFA, my spouse managed to get Drake to eat some brown rice and vegetables mixed with kibble. He’s a hero like that, which is one of the reasons I married him.

So when I got home, Drake seemed much more alert and happy than I expected. He had lost a scary amount of weight, and he could not get up on his own – he hadn’t stood up by himself in weeks, at this point – but at least he was eating. Our standards were lower.

We had a new medication, the tetracycline, but in addition to giving Drake horrible stomach pain, his leg was not looking better. In fact, in the days after I got home from ICFA it became abundantly clear that Drake was fading fast again. Yes, he was eating, but his leg was sporting new bumps ready to burst, and he was lying on the leg and trying to guard it from us. He wouldn’t let us touch it. He finally got so bad he wouldn’t even whine anymore. He just laid in the living room on his bed, curled up in misery.

The vet did another culture, and recommended we wait for the results before we decided on a treatment plan. But it was clear to us that the tetracycline wasn’t working. The problem was we only had one option left, and that was to give Drake a particularly dangerous antibiotic via IV which would cost us about $150 per injection, per day, for 7-10 days. I was less concerned about the money (royalties were due any day) and more concerned about Drake dying. But the truth was, as I told my spouse, Drake was dying right now. We were watching him die. I have worked at a vet clinic before, and my spouse worked at a dog rescue, and even if the vet was being optimistic and conservative, we knew better in this case. We feared that if we waited another week to start, Drake would be too weak to endure the treatments. So against the vet’s recommendation, we didn’t wait for the culture, and we started the antibiotic IV treatments.

Drake improved almost immediately, but had to have urine analysis done every three treatments to make sure his body was handling the drip without, you know, giving him kidney failure. So I waited for the first results before I started being optimistic. Luckily, he is a young dog, and he passed the first urinalysis just fine. About five days into the treatments, the vet called with the results of the culture. Sure enough, as we’d suspected, the infection had adapted to the tetracycline, and had indeed been slowly killing Drake. “You made the right decision,” the vet admitted.

On Friday, we hit Day 7 of Drake’s treatments, and his perpetually oozing wound has finally closed. Just to be safe, now that his second urinalysis came back OK, we are doing two more treatments to make absolutely sure we’ve beaten the infection. On Monday, we’ve scheduled his first water treadmill visit since his second surgery.

It was been a long and exhausting trek, and we still have months of rehab left to go. What this whole ordeal has made me consider, though, is the coming health crisis with antibiotic resistant infections. While Drake was oozing everywhere we’d wash his bedding, clean his leg, wear gloves, and scrub our hands religiously. At the vet, they scrub him up and scrub themselves with the same amount of vigor. We are cautiously optimistic that we’ve finally caught the infection this time, but going through the vast number of antibiotics and treatments we had to to get here brought the horror of this particular apocalypse that much closer. People die of infections today, yes. But you don’t think about dying of an infection when there’s a hospital right down the street today. You don’t think you’ll get cut by a thorn, or scrape your knee, and die from it. Yet those days are coming back. In researching these types of infections I found that more and more people are dying from them. Drake’s surgery went from routine to life-threatening slowly and then all at once. It was scary. It was scary that some days he seemed fine, and he’d rally, and then he’d be back at death’s door.

Clearly we care a lot about our animals. We don’t have kids, so for us, the dogs are part of the family. He still has about 6 to 8 weeks of rehab to go, but here’s to hoping the worst is over. He is a great dog, and we are happy to have him around, however awful the last six months have been for all of us.

Blog Stats: What Being Newly-Kinda-SF-Internet-Only-Famous Looks Like

You know when you’re sitting there listening to a song, and it hits the rock-out chorus part, and suddenly you feel alive, you feel invincible, like anything is possible?

That’s what reading a great essay should be like. A story that moves you to action.

And that’s all blog posts are, really, the good ones: essays that inspire the hell out of you.

I get a lot of snark in convention spaces about how blogs don’t sell books, mostly from authors, and then I get publishers in the other ear saying, “You all should really blog or be in online spaces. It really increases visibility and can sell more books.”

Which is true?

Both and neither.

Writing essays is something you do for all sorts of reasons – writing essays isn’t a great way to sell books directly, no, but if you enjoy doing it, it’s a fun way to build an audience over time as you get better at the form, and an outlet for understanding the world around you. If you get good enough at essay writing, folks will be more than happy to pay you for them, too – not just for the writing, but for the audience you’ve built for that writing.

And it’s the audience-building thing here you should be paying attention to, long-term, not copies sold. Especially if you’re a weird fringe-y writer like me who took a very, very long time to convince publishing that there was a market for what I write. How did I convince them?

Ahem.b25fcdc7034d6da8d603ac1f97f799ed

Writing a blog post won’t make you a mega-bestseller, but I can tell you from personal experience that cultivating a following of readers, of like-minded people who enjoy your fiction and nonfiction and like to talk about it, can take you from low midlist to mid-midlist, and cultivating that audience over a period of many years might even help get you over the hump from mid-midlist to high mid-list once your actual work gets better and more accessible. And those people are going to be the base you jump off from with ever subsequent book; they’re the passionate, core readers who will bring every book into market. The better the books you write, the more that core will help you launch them. They are your partners in this whole messy business. Your customer is NOT a publisher, or an editor, or a Hollywood producer. At the end of the day, the people you’re writing stories for are readers. And it’s readers who will take you places. A lot of readers – not most, certainly, but a lot – spend time on the internet.

And that brings us to this post.

In the ten years I’ve been writing online, the 200 people I was talking to 10 years ago has become 2,000 people and then 10,000 people and now 20,000 people – and that’s just working with the fuzzy, not-all-that-accurate stats I have to work with. In truth, with the proliferation of platforms and how messed up Google Analytics has been for me (often splitting the traffic for one post over two or three links I have to uncover), my real audience for particular posts may be 30% higher.

And I can tell you now – going from 200 pageviews to 20,000 pageviews took me a long time, and a lot of fucking work, and I’ve had to grow and improve as a writer to get there. I didn’t just fall off a truck and magically have people interested in what I had to say.

The biggest shift for me – in my writing career and in my online visibility – happened when “We Have Always Fought” started making the rounds in May of 2013. It also helps that heavy-hitters like John Scalzi and Chuck Wendig (you know, ACTUAL internet-famous people) regularly share links to my stuff now, which has also only happened in the last year/18 months or so.

Yes, amplifying other voices matters. It’s something I’m paying a lot of attention to now that I have a bigger platform, too: whose voices can I amplify? Am I just RT’ing the same four people everyone else is, or am I following and amplifying new voices?

You can see the year-over-year pageview changes here (click to embiggen):

Blog Stats from 2013
Blog Stats from 2013

 

Blog Stats from 2014
Blog Stats from 2014

Last year’s highest day was 17,000 pageviews. This year’s was 21,000, and you can see the bump that happens to daily traffic there at the end of 2013 as well, which builds and carries over into 2014. This is the slow, agonizing process of building an audience at work.

Highest daily pageviews this year happened on March 7th, when I hit a record 21,000 pageviews. Popular posts here garner about 5,000 pageviews, with the occasional “big” post making it into the 10-12k range. Days without big posts will generate 500-1,000 visits a day. Total views for the year were over a half a million: 597,243.

That’s… a lot, for me. When I started this blog I thought it was super when a high-traffic post got 200 hits. I remember one post about abortion got over 1,000 hits (!!!!), largely due to a lot of sharing on Livejournal. Oh, those were the days!

This was also the year I realized a lot of venues were tapping me specifically because I was bringing an established audience to their sites, not necessarily so they could “help me out” or because I’d “be a good fit” or because they liked my work (of course, you can also like my work and like the traffic, too, but the added traffic is nice). When you hit this reach, even if it’s very narrow, you start to rethink a lot of offers people make to you about “exposure.” I’m far more interested in looking at venues outside SF/F, where I already have a bit of saturation (see the top post summary below) and building awareness outside of our bubble, than just providing free or low-cost content to the same audience I reach by posting here. But to do that will require a larger shift in what I write about, too, and to be frank, I’d rather feel free to write about what I want than turn my blog into a job, too.

There’s a lot of talk about how to “build” an audience, and there are all sorts of ways to do it. My “one weird trick” is to work like hell for ten years, writing thoughtful, funny, interesting pieces that people want to read, not being an asshole, and – above all – actually enjoying what I’m writing. If you’re trying to churn out a post a day, or a post a week, “for the clicks” you will burn out.

If you don’t love doing this, stop, because we won’t love it either.

 

Top visited posts written in 2014

  1. Rage Doesn’t Exist in a Vacuum
  2. With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: On Empathy and the Power of Privilege
  3. On Public Speaking While Fat
  4. On Becoming What You Hate, Redux
  5. On Writing the Good Fight: Hugo Roundup
  6. You Don’t Have to Be Evil to Sell Things: A Primer on Ad Writing and Sexism
  7. Some Men Are More Monstrous Than Others: On True Detective’s Men and Monsters
  8. If You Liked Ancillary Justice and God’s War, You’ll Love
  9. Surprise, I Have No Idea Your Book is Coming Out
  10. Burn it All Down: Wiscon’s Failure of Feminism

You’ll note that my highest-trafficked posts from last year were nearly all pieces related to genre snaffus, mostly Hugo-related meltdowns, with the exception of “On Public Speaking While Fat” which had a lot of breakout potential because hey – so many folks have been there. This tells you two things 1) most of the people who “know” me are readers of SFF, so at best, I am “SFF books internet famous” 2) writing about what people are already talking about, or newsjacking, works. If you’re all about clicks, just weigh in on whatever internet meltdown is happening at the time, and watch the clicks roll in. If I was all about clicks, I’d be doing more political posts, or keyword-stuffed posts about Miley Cyrus or Justin whats-his-name or that Zoe person. But I don’t hate myself that much.

This is where the whole, “What are you writing this blog for?” thing comes up. People write for all sorts of reasons, and those who make a living via ad revenue measure success in clicks. But I’m not here to sell ads, or even sell books, really – a blog is not a direct sales channel. It’s about visibility and, to use the marketing term “thought leadership.” It’s also not just here to keep readers updated on what’s going on with the books, because I’ve had the blog since 2004 but didn’t publish my first novel until 2011. This is the place where I’ve come the last ten years to make sense of things in my own life, whether that’s my writing process, relationships, the death of a pet, a sexist slight, media trend, storytelling issue, or whatever. I enjoy writing about my experiences because writing is how I make sense of the world; I create narrative out of chaos. I’ve been doing this a long time in various forms, from journals to emails, and a blog was just a natural extension of that.

Clicks are nice; having an audience has been both a blessing and a burden. I suppose having an audience has helped keep me on my toes. I think a lot more about what I’m typing out here now. There are people who are more than happy to keep me accountable. But most folks come here because what I write is interesting, or makes them feel happy, inspired, or less lonely. And it’s that – the connection with other people, the solace that some of these posts can bring people – that’s been the unexpected result, for me. I like being able to set down complex feelings and ideas and transform them into narrative that compels people to act, or that tugs at heartstrings, or that inspires people to change their lives. But I didn’t… you know, actually expect that to happen. Yet I get fan mail from these people every month, and it’s pretty amazing, to know that words on a page – my words! – can incite action. It’s cool and… a surprisingly heavy responsibility.

Whether it’s inspiring or comforting or enraging and inciting 200 people or 20,000 people, writing here is something worth doing, for me. So I intend to keep at it.

In 2015 I’m wondering where this will all go, because if I keep writing at the level I am, or improve that writing (wouldn’t that be great??) then traffic is very likely to continue its upward trend. That said, traffic gained is also easily lost – we’re all one internet meltdown away from being a pariah, and I know that better than anyone.

I suppose we’ll find out.

Thanks to all of you for coming along for the ride. It’s been quite a wild thing, hasn’t it?

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If you like what you’ve read here in 2014 and would like to support free essays here in 2015, you can donate here, or purchase my essay collection

 

THE HURLEY ARCHIVES: Archiving Papers at NIU

So this summer I was approached by a couple of folks asking about archiving my papers. This was, as you’d imagine (especially those of you who’ve been reading this blog for ten years) a rather surreal experience for me. The first time I thought it was a fluke. The second time, I was genuinely confused. Who would be interested in this stuff, really? But I suppose you never know how an author’s career will turn out, and folks like to lock things up early just in case.

It did require me to sit down and consider the archiving offers,  though, because the reality is that my mother has sent me all the juvenalia that’s been sitting at her house for years, and I still have several boxes of books and early manuscript drafts that survived various moves but which, nevertheless, I was considering tossing before we moved again.

archivesAfter a lot of consideration, which involved looking at the collections, the archivists, and the location of the archives, I decided to accept the offer from Lynne Thomas at Northern Illinois University.

At NIU, I’d be in good company, alongside these folks: Alma Alexander, William Alexander, Eleanor Arnason, Robert Asprin, Kage Baker, Elizabeth Bear, Donald J. Bingle, Alex Bledsoe, Tobias Buckell, Lois McMaster Bujold, Emma BullRichard Chwedyk, Grant Carrington, Circlet Press, Pamela Dean, Lori Devoti, L. Timmel Duchamp, Carol Emshwiller,Philip Jose Farmer, Eric Flint, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Merrie Haskell, Jim C. Hines, Douglas Hulick, John Klima, Mary Robinette Kowal, E.E. Knight, Ted Kosmatka, Naomi Kritzer, Jay Lake, David Levine, Catherine Lundoff, Scott Lynch, Elise Matthesen, Kelly McCullough, Jack McDevitt, Sarah Monette,Lyda Morehouse, Jaime Lee Moyer, Pat Murphy, Sean Michael Murphy, Jody Lynn Nye, Nnedi Okorafor, Rebecca Ore, Tamora Pierce, Tim Pratt, Cherie Priest, Sarah Prineas, Cat Rambo, Mark Rich, Margaret Ronald, Fred Saberhagen, Heather Shaw, Nisi Shawl, Sharon Shinn, Steven H Silver, Kristine Smith, Bud Sparhawk, Jennifer Stevenson, Caroline Stevermer, Cecelia Tan, Catherynne M. Valente, Greg Van Eekhout, David Weber, Michael Z. Williamson, Terri Windling, andPatricia Wrede. As well as the 20th World Science Fiction Convention Collection, a collection of correspondence related to the 1962 WorldCon. And the SFWA papers.

That means that this weekend I need to begin the process of packing up a few boxes and cleaning out my office, which is a fabulous procrastination technique, considering I also need to write 25,000 words this holiday weekend. Tra-la. There will be a lot of late nights that involve me writing and then organizing, writing, then organizing…

If you are a scholar who, for some bizarre reason, wants to troll through the juvenile dreck that got me this far, as well as early drafts and notes related to the God’s War trilogy and the Worldbreaker Saga, NIU will be the place to go, sometime next year.

Thanks to Lynne Thomas and NIU for their generous offer.

I’ll Sleep When It’s May: Stop. Drop. And Write.

I’ll be in stealth mode throughout April this year. I’ve got edits due on THE MIRROR EMPIRE and a writing retreat later in the month exclusively dedicated to burning through pages on book 2, and the last thing I need to be doing when completing loads of work is chatting with other humans, even and especially on the internet.

The good news is I do have a few things I’ve already completed and/or have scheduled to go live in April, so I’ll swing by to share those when I can. But I’ll be far more sporadic than usual. I’m writing this for me as much for you, as it encourages me to follow through with having my spouse hide the router for days at a time.

Reminders While I’m Out: 

1) The UK ebooks of both GOD’S WAR and INFIDEL are on sale right now through the end of April for just 3.99 (INFIDEL’s release has moved up to April 1 from May 1, so order now to download immediately on release). Grab them while you can, because the minute the Clarke Award winner is announced, that’s it. C’est finis.

2) If you’d like to contact me for interviews, podcasts, blurbs, quotes, and all other manner of things, please drop me an email. I’m not likely to see it on Twitter or Facebook right now, but I’m still happy to participate in projects.

3) Be sure to support the great work being done by other folks.

4) And above all else, never stop yelling on the Internet. And bust that out into your real life on occasion, yeah? Change doesn’t happen by shutting up and sitting still.

With that said, I’m going to get to the fuck work.

epicshit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Sleep Til 2014

As of tonight I’ll be ducking offline until January, primarily because I have a big social media blitz planned that month (I’ll be spending December writing 22 guest posts that will come out in January. Really). I’ve also got a few things I’m juggling right now, and some work to do regarding my day job career, which is going to take some headspace.

Folks often ask me how I can juggle dayjob copywriting and fiction writing and the answer is that sometimes I spend more time focused on one than the other. This is one of those times when I need to move some items around.

Most of the next six weeks I’ll be:

  • Writing aforementioned 22 blog posts
  • Catching up on research for my new book; I’m woefully behind
  • Making actual progress on writing that new book, which has stalled out due to lack of research
  • Focusing on day job, career-related concerns

As the long dark death of winter has descended, I’m also operating sub-optimally. Investing in the happy lights means I can indeed actually function now(!) and can hit deadlines and deliver work (22 blog posts, remember?), but it still takes more effort for me to stay focused when the daylight goes away; there’s still a noticeable difference, though it’s no longer crippling. So I’m less excited about playing superhero and DOING ALL THE THINGS. I’ll take this time of year as its meant to be, or so says my internal clock: as a time of rest and introspection.

I’ll be popping back in if I have any kind of news – I have an article in the December issue of Locus that I’ll let people know about when it’s live, and of course if there are any book-related announcements of note, I’ll let you know.

Otherwise, I’m going to just delete Twitter from my phone for a few weeks and hunker down and get to work.

See you all (properly) in January.

northern-lights-camping

 

 

Writer Seeking Assistant (Can Work Remotely. Must Love Epic Fantasy)

evil

UPDATE: Due to the overwhelming response, I’m not longer accepting applications while I sort through emails. Thank you!

I’ve been putting off my growing need for an assistant for a long time, mainly due to money issues, but with more freelancing work coming in and a desperate desire to finish this next book so ya’ll will actually see a new book from me before 2020, I’m sucking it up and putting out the call for an assistant.

Initial work will be updating the wiki for my current series (it will look a lot like the one for my last series). Because you’ll likely be handling the rough draft of said work to cross reference things, I’ll ask you to sign a basic non-disclosure agreement (fancy!). Later, this may turn into inserting line edits into manuscripts, organizing worldbuilding notes and possible research. I do an incredible number of revisions.

Details and requirements:

  • Working remotely is fine, though my preference is for somebody in a time zone no more than 4 hours +/- Eastern Standard Time.
  • As I’ll be trusting folks with work-in-progress, I’ll need character/work references. If you’re young-ish (must be at least 18), I’ll take references from teachers/academic pros. You should also really, really like writing/reading fiction, especially epic fantasy. You will be hip deep in a lot of worldbuilding, for which I apologize in advance. Bonus if you’re already familiar with my last series and didn’t hate it.
  • Skills required: familiarity with wikis, including tagging, formatting and linking content. Strong writing skills and attention to detail a must.
  • Pay is $15-17 an hour, paid via Paypal. At this time, I don’t see it being more than a couple hours a week, but that could vary based on potential contracts and deadlines.

My next series will be just as wiki-heavy as the one I’m working on now. So, if we hit it off, this could become a regular gig.

If you’re interested, please email me at: <<>> with a couple paragraphs about why you think you’d be a great fit.

Thank you so much for your help!

 

 

 

On Hiatus – But Probably Still Alive

It occurred to me today that I’m dangerously close to burnout, and as I’m about to head down the rabbit hole with RAPTURE promo in early November, now is probably a good time to take a break from being social and actually knuckle down and get to work.

I’ve managed to get really far behind on projects. If you start spending too much time on stuff like book numbers, reviews, mentions, and all the rest of the business bit of this game, it can really sap your headspace for creating new stuff, because to be dead honest you start thinking, “Fuck everybody. What’s the point? I’m going to retire to some obscure Greek island somewhere and drink myself to death.”

And that’s when you know it’s time to pull the curtains for a while.

So, suffice to say, I’ll be pretty quiet the next four weeks. After that, of course, it’s RAPTURE time, so I’ll be a little busy bee again.

See you all then!