Monthly Archives: June 2013

Enough with the Creeping

This went up on John Scalzi’s Whatever (and a number of other places) on Friday–

Reporting Harassment at a Convention: A First-Person How To

It’s an important post by Elise Matthesen, talking about her experience of being harassed at a con and how she dealt with it. Though it’s been blowing up all over the SF and Fantasy side of the internet, I think it deserves all the signal boost it can get.

Now, a short personal message. As a guy, to all the guys out there in the community– enough with the fucking creeping already. And I’m not just talking to those who do it. Though yeah, you should really stop. I’m talking to all of us who know this shit happens, but it’s uncomfortable to talk about, so maybe we could just pretend it doesn’t… No. No we can not. We have to deal with this, and call guys on it when they’re being creepy. Even when we know them. Even if we are them.

Oh! But someone has a question! How do I know if I’m being creepy? I’m a very friendly guy! That could be misinterpreted. Excellent. Well, here’s a very quick, if crude, test. Imagine that everyone you meet at a con is Vin Diesel.

Pic by Andre Luis / CC Attribution-Sharealike

Pic by Andre Luis / CC Attribution-Sharealike

This guy!

Vin Diesel is awesome. You’d want to meet him at a con, wouldn’t you? He plays D&D!

Now let’s consider this–

If you asked him for a photo, would you put your hand on his ass while you stood beside him?

If he stepped on an elevator with you, would you wait for the doors to close and then tell him how hot he looks in those pants?

Would you follow him from party to party, so that you could sneak up from behind and grab him for huggy time, because he just makes you so darn happy?

My guess is no. Why not? Are you going to meet anyone else at a con who is as awesome as that guy? No, probably not. So why not be all friendly touchy-feely to him? Does it seem disrespectful? Are you concerned he might not like it?  Maybe those thoughts should occur to you before you pull those moves on anyone.


PS– If you would do those things to Vin Diesel, stop it. He shouldn’t be creeped on either.

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Gorilla writing

Not the primates. More like the warfare.

Busy Kelly is Busy. Again. Still. Always. I feel like I’ve written this same post twelve times over the past year. “I’m so frickin’ busy!”

Sometimes finding writing time is easy. Friends are busy doing other things; it’s too cold/hot/rainy/dry to do yard work or exercise outdoors; the spouse it cooking dinner tonight; there’s nothing good on TV. Sure, there’s always something to read/do/watch/bitch about on the internet, but if that siren song can be ignored for an hour, it’s all good.

It’s a little trickier when Real Life rears its head. Yes, I’ve been particularly busy over the past year, but I’ve managed to write several short stories, finish one novel, start another, and get a contract for a secret project. That secret project is due soon, and I’ve got to get crackin’ on it. This is not an arbitrary deadline; I’ve got a whole lot of words due in about thirty days. This will necessitate a change in protocol. Normally, I reserve writing for evenings and weekends. Now, though, I’m going to employ the stealth mode of writing. On the train. At lunch hour. Staying up a bit later at night. That sort of thing.

I’m a bit exhilarated, actually. Sure, stressed, but excited and pumped up.

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Hello, thunderstorm

I’m paranoid about keeping my computer unplugged during thunderstorms. Since it’s not a laptop and I live in the Midwest, that means there are a lot of evenings and weekends during the spring and summer when I can’t write on the computer.

But the reason I don’t have a laptop is because I wanted an iPad, and $iMac + $iPad = $Macbook.

So I do a lot of work on the iPad. I’m still waiting for the iPad version of Scrivener. Without it, there are some things I can only do on the computer. Like revise that novel I’m supposed to be revising tonight. (If only I could control the weather like the protagonist of that book.)

This is where working on multiple projects is really useful. I might not be able to do the revision work I want to be doing right now, but I can work on this other novel, or that short story. My revisions will be waiting patiently for better weather.

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It’s summer, and the traveling season has begun. Last week I went camping with the family at Mammoth Cave. By the time I remembered I was supposed to post something here, I was in a hole in the ground. There’s very bad cell reception in a hole. In the ground.

This week though, I remembered! While I’m in the middle of packing for another trip, to exciting Indiana. So yeah, I’m pretty useless this time too. I will say though, that long car trips are useful for plotting out books. Though after 3 am, the plotlines start to get awful strange.

Not 80’s hair strange, but strange.

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Time Traveled Tales

So I’m using my post this week to blather about a Kickstarter for Time Traveled Tales. For those that don’t know, it’s the Origins 2012 anthology. My story “Know Your Nemesis” went on to become one of the subplots of my World Domination book. Silence in the Library Publishing is having a Kickstarter to reprint the anthology with cool artwork by Matt Slay. There will be hardcovers available, I believe, and some of the stretch goals include coins engraved with artwork from the book. Money raised will go to the authors as well as literacy programs.

Kickstarting a book is a new paradigm in publishing, I think, and I might give it a whirl before the end of the year.

Anyhoo, if you’d like to support writers and readers, give Time Traveled Tales Kickstarter a look.

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I signed up for Audible recently. I was motivated to try it because they had the first three chapters of Josh Kaufman’s The First Twenty Hours up for free, but then I realized it melds nicely with this year’s goal or reading books rather than blogs. I hadnt thought about the audio version–audiobooks not podcasts–but it seems like it’s an even better idea there.

In the case of books-not-blogs, my main reasoning was content: blogs are (usually) pretty disorganized and superficial. Podcasts actually seem a little more content-heavy, at least the ones I follow, but the overhead of making sure to update them, sync my phone, delete the old ones, find the one I want to listen to…it’s even more of a pain than with blogs.

Audiobooks solve both problems: way less overhead since they’re 10-20 times as long, in-depth well-organized content, and as a bonus maybe I can attack my reading list a bit. Also, easier to wrangle in the car.

I’m still undecided on whether I’ll keep it after the first couple months, though. My recall is a lot worse for audio than for something I’m reading, and it’s almost impossible to take notes (especially since I’ve been listening while doing other things, like driving or gardening). So we’ll see.

Any recommendations for great nonfiction audiobooks?

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Origins 2013–it’s here!

How did it get to be mid-June already? That’s not a rhetorical question. I really want to know.

Anyhoo, since it’s mid-June, that means I’m at Origins Game Fair in Columbus. It’s my first time as a writing-program event planner, and while I’m a bit nervous, so far it’s going well. If you’re in the environs of the Convention Center and want to stalk me at some writing panels, here’s my schedule:

Thursday 10 a.m., room 223: Hey! I’ve got a day job!

Friday, 11 a.m., room 223: Women Writing Horror

Friday, noon, room 222: Sexism, How much is too much?

Saturday, 11 a.m., room 223: A writing group is not just a group of writers

Sunday, 11 a.m., room 222: Writing Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction

I’ll be in the Library area of the dealer hall most other times. When I’m not eating or playing games, that is. Origins is a gaming convention, so I expect I’ll be sleep-deprived and over-caffeinated by Sunday afternoon.




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My current favorite to-do application

I’m not sure if I’ve talked about this on here, but I love playing with productivity apps. I’m always searching for the perfect solution–something that’s fast, flexible, and that can keep track of everything. It’s a huge time waster.

More than a year ago, I started using separate programs for writing stuff and non-writing stuff (Firetask and Things, respectively). This works well, except for one thing: the problem with putting *everything* into these apps is that…. *everything* is in these apps. It’s overwhelming. Even with filtering by category or due date or a “today” list, it’s a constant reminder of how much I have to do, and a constant distraction.

I also like the visual representation that a calendar gives me. This is one reason I’ve tried so many to do list apps–they’re all lists. Yes, I understand and agree with the whole philosophy about not putting tasks on your hard landscape, but putting tasks on my calendar helps remind me that tasks actually take up time and I cannot do infinite numbers of them every day.

So I gave up on finding the perfect app. Instead….


My weekly planner is clearly hand-drawn (at least I used a ruler). This is because I gave up trying to find one that is in the right format, with blocks for weekdays that are too small to cram too many things into, and bigger blocks for weekends (most weekly planners make the weekdays big and weekends small, like they’re all made for people to use at work or something), and space to write whatever deadlines and goals and notes I have.

The nice thing about drawing the planner every week (it takes a whole minute or so) is that I can change it. I’m actually going to make the weekdays even smaller (really, I can only do one thing a night other than writing, and having too much space there tempts me to try to add things) and get rid of the list of things to read (because I put that elsewhere). I’ll probably sub in a free-form notes section and subdivide the weekends into morning/afternoon/evening.

So each week I go through my to do list apps and my calendar and spend 15 minutes or so figuring out what I’m going to do when. Basically, having to copy things into the planner ensures that I do a weekly review.

Best of all, I can put everything into an app and keep it organized and scheduled, but not get overwhelmed with everything I want to get done. That’s definitely worth 15 minutes a week.

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Mind-blowing book of the week

I’m thinking of making this a thing.  Every now and then, I’ll spotlight a book I’m reading that I think has some kind of mind-blowing quality about it.  To be clear, though, this would not be a traditional review.  I won’t be discussing the strengths and weaknesses of a book or giving a comprehensive analysis of the plot and characters.  What I will do is highlight a particular scene, character, plot point, world building element, etc. that I think works exceptionally well, and say why.  Since this is also from a writer’s perspective, it will focus on what I can learn from these elements in my own work.  I’ll try to include a variety of books: science fiction and fantasy, of course, but also romance, mystery, classic and contemporary works.

The book I’m reading this week is John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley: In Search of America.  It’s the story of Steinbeck’s road trip across the interstates and back roads of America and his attempt to get re-acquainted with the country and its people.  Steinbeck makes this journey in his converted truck/camper–nicknamed Rocinante–with his poodle Charley along for company.

There’s a particular scene about halfway through the book where Steinbeck stops in Chicago to meet up with his wife, who is flying in to visit him after he’s been on the road for a few months.  He arrives at an upscale hotel at around 3:00 in the morning, and since his room isn’t ready, Steinbeck, exhausted, unshaven, and desperately craving a shower and a bed, makes an arrangement with the staff to temporarily occupy the room of a man who had to check out early.  Housekeeping hasn’t cleaned the room yet, but Steinbeck doesn’t mind.  All he wants is that hot shower and a few hours’ sleep.

He goes to the room, sits down, takes off one shoe…and suddenly, despite his exhaustion, his writer brain takes off and he’s captivated by the room and the man who occupied it before him.  Steinbeck nicknames the man Lonesome Harry, and as he walks through the hotel room, he constructs a portrait in his mind of who the man might be, who the woman is that joined him in his room and left lipstick on the glasses and the cigarette butts in the ashtray, and whether they were happy together or lonely.  In the wrong hands, this scene might read as creepy and voyeuristic at worst, or at best like a snippet from an episode of CSI.  But Steinbeck, in just a page of description, establishes a melancholy connection to this man he will never meet, yet who becomes a part of Steinbeck’s journey as vividly as if the two had chatted over coffee at a roadside diner.

What do I take from this?  The rooms we occupy in our lives–even the temporary ones–say a lot about us, even if we don’t realize it.  The traces we leave behind, Steinbeck says, are like ghosts, echoes that can be perceived by people who know how to look for them.  With the right description of a space, I can say so much about a character, even before he or she appears on the page.

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Bouncy House

I’m putting this post up late tonight, because it’s summer and I’m involved in so many different things right now. Like cleaning and defrosting the fridge.


In addition to getting caught up on various household chores that I’ve been putting off for months (years), I’ve also been torturing my children. No, I haven’t waterboarded them for leaving the Ipad in the middle of the floor where someone can come this close to stepping on it before they notice and lunge to the side to avoid it, moving with the sure grace of a heron stomping on a power line. Though the idea occurred. No, this torture is much more mundane and omnipresent. I’m torturing them by not doing what they want me to do right now.

School is out. The kids are around all the time, and they want all sorts of things. Books read. Shows started. Food. The park. The pool. Food, again. They want, so they ask. Over and over, until Dad goes all owly-bear.

Thing is, I get it. They want–whatever–really bad, and most of the time they can only get it through me or their mother. They can’t make pizza, they can’t download anything from Itunes without our stamp of approval, and we’ve really cracked down on letting the five year old drive to the pool. They have to rely on us, and we’re pretty crappy on the follow through. We keep having other things to do (see refrigerator, scary), other things to spend our money on, we’re always doing boring things with other people, and for some reason we’re awful cranky when asked for breakfast early in the morning.

It’s all out of their hands, and it’s torture for them. We have access to all these amazing things–TV, candy, bouncy houses–and when they ask about them our answer is usually no. Or maybe, followed by a long wait, and then no. And do our explanations make sense. No. Laws? Safety? Money? These things are just our way of keeping them down.

Now, can you guess how I’m going to connect this to writing?

What if I told you I had twelve things out right now? What if I said that over half of them have been in their respective slush piles for way longer than is average (at least according to my tracking sites)?

Editors have lives (right Kelly?). Jobs, families, hobbies. Parties to go to, cats to photograph, refrigerators to defrost. Their slush piles are just another job to do. They’ll get to it.

Meanwhile, I wait, and worry, and wonder. This time, this market, this story. Will it work? Will they love it? Will they? Will they?

Will there be a bouncy house?

(Spoiler alert- No, usually not. And are my kids, for some reason, are seldom sympathetic.)


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