Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Changes

You might have noticed that I made a couple of changes around here.

I resisted putting my photo online for a long time, and part of me still wishes that there was some magical way to avoid that.  I wish I could stay in the part of the Internet where we have to judge each other only on our words, because there's no name or voice or body to let us shortcut our reason by saying "oh, of course - s/he's one of those."  But that would mean never leaving my computer or going to any events ever, and I'm not willing to do that.  So now you can enjoy me as I exist in carbon-world: as Yet Another Squishy White Woman.  (And a damn fine example of the species, if I do say so myself.  Shout-out to all my fellow SWWs!)

I resisted using my given name for similar reasons.  It's hard to spell and pronounce and remember, for one thing.  But more than that, I always felt like the scariness that is writing and inviting the whole world to read it almost requires some kind of spandex-clad second identity, so the slings and arrows of outraged readers fall not on Bruce Wayne, but on Batman.  Because he can handle it.  Because he's Batman

Well, I've written what I've written, and I look the way I look, and I probably ought to get comfortable with owning all of that.  (Though I'll take it as a favor if y'all still call me Tex.)

But I'm not gonna lie, you guys.  I am scared out of my mind way more often than I'd like to be, and it's not just pre-publication jitters.

--I'm scared of putting my picture up, cuz I've seen what people do with them (especially if you're a gal who starts having unwelcome opinions.)

--I'm scared of using my real name, cuz I've also seen how clever the Internet can be in digging up your personal information and delivering the rape-and-death threats right to your doorstep.

--I'm scared of going to cons as anything but an attendee, because I've heard all the horror stories about creepers and stalkers, in addition to the more garden-variety "how 'bout you have a nice big glass of shut up and sit down, little lady" social misdemeanors.

--I'm scared of the regular old "your books suck, you suck, and you should probably just go die in a fire" reviews, comments, and hate mail that seem to be par for the course these days.

And you know what?  I bet that is not a drop in the freaking ocean compared to the racism, ableism, and homophobia that I'll never have to deal with. 

Anyway, none of this has actually happened yet.  And when it does, it won't be anything that hasn't happened to hundreds and thousands of other people.  It won't be anything that I didn't accept as a risk when I decided to get into this gig.  After all, if you play outside long enough, sooner or later you're going to scrape your knee.  For me personally, the thrill of the playground is worth the risk.  And I'm incredibly lucky to have made it this far.

I guess mostly I'm just going to miss this version of me.  The one who's never had a nasty encounter, who can go to cons all starry-eyed and bouncingly enthusiastic, who's never had to find out what does or doesn't qualify as justification for a restraining order or a harassment complaint.  There's already so much "except for..." in my love for SFF fandom and Internet culture in general, and it's going to suck to have to add to that.

Well, here's to 2014: the year I get out there and get dirty.  Bring it on.

Hold your head high, take a deep breath and sigh
Goodbye to Sandra Dee.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

From 60 to Zero in 3.5

Well, it's like this: on Monday night, I got in my first actual for-real car accident.

I was doing about 60 in the middle lane of the freeway.  Then the fellow on my right careened into the guardrail, ricocheted off, and slammed into into the right front corner of my car.  It knocked me into the left lane (though fortunately nobody else was near me.)  By that time he was veering wildly all over the road, and I was so scared he was going to hit me again.  I sped up to get out of his way, but something was really wrong with my car, so I pulled over onto the left shoulder and threw on my blinkers.  He ended up spun out and smoking across two lanes.

I ended up in the back of a patrol car. 
(Did you know the seats back there are plastic?  True fact.)


Things got more orderly after that.  I called 911.  The police came, and some ambulances.  They towed my car, and dropped me off at a Whataburger, where my sister collected me and took me home.  I got a good telling-off from the Dude for not taking up the medical personnel on their offer of a once-over, but I didn't hit anything inside the car and the airbag didn't deploy.  (Weirdly enough, it's my foot that's been killing me here, three days after the fact.  I can't figure that one out.) 

So everything's in limbo at the moment.  Car's got at least a broken axle, but we're still waiting to hear the full extent of the damage.  Really REALLY hope it's not a write-off.  In the meantime, I've been thinking a lot about how much worse it could have been, and all the little advantages that add up in situations like this.  You know, living in a town where you have family and friends who can come get you when you're in a pickle.  Having full collision coverage, so you're not wringing your hands wondering if you just had a $10,000 bad day.  Having the means to walk over to the car rental place after the fact and get yourself some temporary wheels.  Knowing that you have medical insurance, so you're covered if you wake up the next day with your head on backwards.

But what's really killing me is that I don't know anything about that other car.  Was the driver hurt?  Did s/he have passengers?  Were they wearing seat belts?  What caused them to lose control in the first place?  I must have sat there for half an hour, talked to the police four or five times, and it never once occurred to me to ask.  I just didn't even think about it.

Regardless, the police report should be up by tomorrow, so hopefully we'll find out soon.  We still had a really good Christmas with the the Texas/New Mexico branch of Team Thompson.  And even if the car is a loss, it won't be an insurmountable one.

It's just really weird, you know, to suddenly find yourself in a place where your second-to-second decisions are the super-vitally-important ones.  Weirder still to look back after the fact and realize that maybe you're not exactly the kind of person you thought you were.

At any rate, I know the holidays are stressful for a lot of my friends.  Hope you guys got through it with at least one good thing added to your memory banks, and at least one more to look forward to.  Y'all stay safe out there, and think a good thought with me for driver #2 in the meantime.


We just had a near-life experience, fellas.

Friday, December 20, 2013

"One Night in Sixes" Available for Pre-Order!

Not gonna lie, y'all.  It's pretty freakin' exciting.


One Night in Sixes is available for pre-order on Amazon.com!

What I know so far:

--right now it's mass-market paperback only, but the ebook version will be forthcoming.

--big delicious version of the full cover (w/title and everything) is likewise still in the works

--the Goodreads page is live too!  (waiting for aforesaid big delicious cover, and then we'll add it there as well)

--it hasn't shown up yet on Barnes & Noble, but is populating to other retailers (and search works better if you put the title in quotes.)

--paper and ebook versions will officially launch on July 29th

I won't be doing the huge "hurry up and get you one!" sales push until things are a little more put together - but if it sounds like your kind of yarn and you do want a paper version, go put your name on it!  (And if you want me to put my name on it, I will even bring my own pen.  Hell, I will sign your ANYthing.)

Thanks ALL y'all who have already lent your attention and enthusiasm to this thing.  Soon, the lightning will strike and the current will arc and it will LIVE!
 

Don't know if I'm elated or gassy, but I'm somewhere in that zone.

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Sawmill's Hope, or, Kickstarting Over the Snake River Canyon

You know, I'm starting to believe that an essential function of friendship is to enrich your life with people who think of - and DO - things you never would have.  If true, this would explain a lot about my marriage.  (Like, not only would I not have elected to draw a giant dick in the sand at a friend's beachside wedding rehearsal, it never occurred to me to WANT to.)

Case in point, though: one of my newest friends, David List, is currently Kickstarting a fantasy novel called A Sawmill's Hope.  This is currently blowing my mind.

He had me at "fishmen."
(image (c) David List and Tracy Flynn)
To be clear: the idea of Kickstarter itself, or using it to fund novels, is nothing exceptionally new.  I watched A Lee Martinez fund a short story collection earlier this year (and Robots and Slime Monsters is coming out soon, BTW!)  And although it's actually the first I've heard of him, Harry Connolly has done a great writeup about his recent success with funding a new fantasy trilogy the same way.

But see, those guys are are Big-Five multipublished authors, who already have a slew of books out on the shelves.  For our man David, A Sawmill's Hope is his brand-spanking-new debut.  He doesn't have 900 professionally-published pages worth of reputation to ramp up on.  He doesn't have a big established fanbase to rev up for this project.  That dude is running on passion, guts, and passion. And guts.  So like... I guess sort of a whole 80's action movie parfait, minus the obligatory power ballad.

That is pretty amazing to me, because Kickstarter takes the traditional self-publishing model and does a total 180.  Instead of putting your book up on Amazon and then spending years convincing people to buy it, you ask for their money up front, and have only Xty-two DAYS to convince them to ante up. If the funding goal doesn't make, all of your backers' pledges poof into the ether, and you got nothing.

I believe my chosen analogy is an accurate one.

So how do you sell people on a book they can't buy yet, written by an author they've never read?  (Full confession: this particular topic is of keen interest to yours truly.  I'm sure I don't know why.)

Well, so far David's taking a multimedia tack.  He's got the sample chapter and cover design up there, of course, but he's also got art, music, and the video too.  And - like the sand-phallus's tasteful, appropriate counterpart, this never would have occurred to me - he's giving out a secret backstory tidbit to all his backers, every time the funding hits another 10% mark.  Won't spoil the ones he's given out so far, but I will say this: it is really cool to hear about how his growing up in a granite-mining town, with all of the associated miners' hazards and diseases, has influenced the way magic works in his world. Totally encourage you guys to give it a look-see, if you're looking to tromp through a fresh corner of Fantasyland!

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/davidlist/a-sawmills-hope-adventure-fantasy-novel-set-in-sil
(c) David List

Bigger question for you-all in the meantime: what other tidbits or extras make a project like this one stand out to you?   Are there any Kickstartings or other indie drives that you're especially stoked about?

It was dumping rain, churning leaves like an unending applause.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Doing the Horse Stance

Sorry for the long radio silence here.

To summarize: had an awesome time with the fam, made it back to the states, am currently enjoying the last of five blissful, iced-over days with the house to myself. This is what the front walk currently looks like--


--which I am taking as a sign that God wants me to stay home and work on my book. (Can do, Lord.)

I did finally venture out yesterday, though, to watch my sister test for her black belt. LOOK AT THIS GIRL GO.  (And yes, that's cement under the towel.)


video


I know, right. I am RELATED to that. (Don't ask me how - maybe we flipped a coin in the ovary. "Right: heads, I take squishy, sedentary and sarcastic, tails, you get relentless ass-kicking aptitude and a knack for cleaning up anything that can come out of a dog.")

It was a hell of a time, too. There were four other people also testing for various degrees of black belt, and the Master really put them through their paces. There was five-on-one sparring, brick-smashing, board-breaking, throws, holds, and more weapon forms than you could shake a kwan dao at.  Here's the one that always makes my eyes pop out, though:


It's called the horse stance, and if anybody ever tries to blow you smoke about what a total martial arts bad-ass they are, you can pretty much call them on it by having them drop into a horse stance and clocking how long they can hold it.  It is hard - sweat-beading, arm-shaking, butt-quivering HARD.  (How hard, you ask?  Well, to give you some idea, people testing for the black belt - which you tend to earn after about ten years of serious, solid work - hold the stance for five minutes.  Ten years.  Five minutes.  Yeah.)

I think this is my favorite of all their skill tests, though.  More so even than the brick smashing.  Because, like...yes, there are those moments in your life when you do have to rise to the occasion and do something jaw-droppingly amazing.  Like lifting a car off a child, or schooling the hosts of "Crossfire" so hard the show gets cancelled.   But man... SO OFTEN the biggest, hardest, most epic battle in a person's life is the struggle just to stand it.  Whatever it is.  You're not trying to win any medals.  You're not out to save Metropolis.  You're just staring down the absolute toughest thing in your world, and holding the line.  It's amazing to see that struggle given physical form.

(Please don't take this as any dire personal allusion, by the way.  I can assure you that my gluteals are quivering only in happy, positive ways.)

Anyway, hope all you local yokels are staying safe out there.  And if anybody DOES happen to need someone who can snap a man's neck between her ample liquid-titanium thighs... I'll be glad to get you a referral.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure every woman in the room spontaneously ovulated at the sight of that.