Monday, June 27, 2016

A Different Kind of Call Goes Out

Okay, so you know the “this is my 2AM phone call” post from a few months back?

This is not that. This is not an emergency or a crisis or a disaster. This is a state-of-my-union address, and... let’s say a casting call.

Today is June 27th. Six months exactly until Dreams of the Eaten comes out. And the almost-perfect halfway point of 2016.

This is how I've spent my time this year, in hours.
I’ve worked hard this year, and with good results. So far, I have:
  1. Started a “secret” coalition of DFW-area writers groups. We have seventeen in the fold so far, with more still to add – and we are beginning to do great things.
  2. Begun a new program for the DFW Writers Workshop, called the Writers Bloc – a fledgling once-per-month education and social group, free and open to the public. It’s still a work in progress, but we’ve had great response so far.
  3. Taught at my first paid gig – a writers retreat – and been invited to another one (which is going to be awesome - you should come!)
  4. Led a three-month "speakers workshop" to prepare new instructors to teach at DFWcon 2016 - which is always one of the highlights of my year
  5. Started teaching for the Writers Path at SMU here in Dallas. I’m having such a good time – this is one of my proudest professional accomplishments to date.
  6. Helped Kristen stay in her house. (Actually, you-all have done that – I’m just banging the gong)
  7. Initiated a partnership with the Dallas County Community College District - too early and still too tentative to call a win, but one that has the potential to change the entire DFW literary scene
  8. Started teaching my own one-day writing workshops – irregularly, but to great enthusiasm
  9. Formed a crew of convention ambassadors from the DFW Writers Workshop – a bad-ass panelist posse if there ever was one
  10. Finished the edits for Dreams of the Eaten... almost.
And I haven't even gotten rolling yet. I haven't even started putting together the fan-swag and writer-merch I want to sell - still want to create a booth-sharing con-going author-coalition - am determined to get this "Page it Forward" free first chapters project off the ground.

You notice, though, how many of those list items up there start with the word “started,” “begun”, etc. – and the one “finished” thing isn’t even finished yet.

And what I’ve learned in the first half of 2016 is that I’m not going to make it through the second if I keep this up. I’m pushing hard because these are things I want to do for a living – things I want to spend my life doing. And if I’m going to stay in the game for the next 30 or 40 or 50 years (and I plan to!), I need my health. My friends. My marriage. All of which have been back-burnered for months now – none of which can afford to stay there.

This is not my to-do list.
This is one of my ten to-do lists.
But the other thing I learned, while we were making the big push for Kristen, is that it's not always a selfish thing to ask for help. Sometimes it's the hardest, bravest, kindest, most generous thing you can do - for yourself and for the people you're asking.

So this is me, taking the plunge, asking for help. Here in approximate order of urgency are the things I need.
  1. A digital me. A carnival barker – promoter – cyber-bard – whatever you want to call it. I am an organizer, teacher, motivator, and thoroughly analog human. I am not a promoter or an e-socializer. I need someone who can tweet, face, blog, and email so that the rest of the world can find out about these great deeds-in-progress. Maybe two someones (one for my books, and one for my writer-doings). And I’m happy to pay for that, but I don’t want to dig up some rando out of the phone book. I would much rather work with somebody who’s already drunk the Kool-Aid – who’s as excited about this stuff as I am. (You can buy a person’s time, y’all, but enthusiasm is a priceless, unsellable treasure.)

  2. Book reviews. The kind you write yourself, on Amazon and Goodreads, and the kind book bloggers write on their websites. This is the one kind of promotion I can't (ethically) buy or barter for myself. Getting Sixes past the 50-review mark on Amazon would be terrific. Getting Medicine to 25 would be fantastic. And getting *any* book blogger of size to pick up this series would be unutterably wonderful.
  3. Stockpiling pre-orders for this one would be good too.
  4. Speaking opportunities. I want to be on your podcast, at your conference, in your bookstore. Anything that involves speaking out loud, in real time (in person or online) is 100% my jam - and travel and expense may not be the barriers you think they are. Hit me up. Connect me. We’ll figure it out.
  5. Press. Publicity. Especially the kind that doesn't involve me having to sit down and gin up a 1,000-word blog post on my own initiative. (I can do those. I will do those - especially if your name is the Mary Sue, io9, John Scalzi, or Cracked. But they take a lot out of me, and I don't have the juice to do guest posts on the regular anymore.) If you can do the chronicling, I will provide all the insightful, hilarious, Textacular content you can handle.
  6. To date, I have not been on TV. But I've definitely been near TV.
  7. An artist - one who has enjoyed my books. Again, I will happily pay for time and talent - but it would be really great to have enthusiasm come pre-installed.
  8. Website help - especially someone who knows their way around a shopping cart. (And Shawn, Jonathan: thank you so much for putting yourselves forward for the Droughtworld website. I'm absolutely going to take you up on it. This bat-signal is for the events/workshops side of things.)
  9. Classroom/workshop spaces in DFW. They need to be suitable for video presentations (I can provide all the A/V equipment), ideally able to seat up to 25, available nights and weekends, and - here is the critical part - okay with me accepting money on the premises. I'm happy to give a percentage of what I make - so if you have an office or big back room that's going unused after-hours and want to see if we can help each other out, please hit me up.
  10. An A/V pro in DFW. Someone we can hire to help us to create professional-quality recordings of our Writers Bloc classes (one Saturday a month in Irving.)
Yeah, I know - it's a hell of a list. And the delicious irony of all this communal ruckus-raising I've been doing over the past couple years is that I've surrounded myself with people who are as driven as I am - who are stretching themselves to the max to chase their own dreams. It makes for a fantastic friends-circle, but doesn't leave any of us with much room to help each other out.

So for all of you wonderful people who would walk through fire and brimstone for me if only you could find five spare minutes to fire up the coals - don't worry. And don't let your chronic altruism sucker you into overcommitting yourself. I need your friendship more than anything on this list - and in that, you've already given me a great gift.

Including but not limited to the gift of shenanigans.

But if you do see something here that gets your inner overachiever all fired up ("Ooh! Me! Pick me!"), and you genuinely do have the bandwidth for it - please let me know. Here or email (tex at or smoke signals or a brick through my front window. And when you do, let me know how this will fit into your bigger picture - because so often we can do for each other what we can't do for ourselves, and I would love to be part of your success, too.

My name is Alexander Hamilton
And there’s a million things I haven’t done
But just you wait - just you wait...

Friday, June 3, 2016

Con or Bust or Else

Okay, time for a happy one.

So I went to ConQuest this past weekend, which proceeded to treat me and everyone else like nerdy superstars. (Seriously, it's a terrific con. If you want aggressively welcoming bookish SFF, go.)

Per my usual custom, I waited until the last minute to figure out bunking arrangements, and asked on the ConQuest FB page if anyone needed a roommate. Carol Cao answered the call. We got to talking, and I asked her what took her all the way up to Kansas City. She said, "well, I applied for funding through this organization that provides assistance for fans of color to attend conventions, and -"

"- oh, you mean Con or Bust, right?!" (Me, gleefully interrupting)

"Yes! You know about it?"

"DO I." (NB: I do. It's my main charity.)

And it was the most aptly-timed conversation ever, because that was the last day to enter something in the annual Con or Bust auction, and I was seriously considering bailing this year. Don't have time, ruinously tired, need to stop adding more stuff to my plate, etc.

But here was a CoB recipient, offering me hotel space after my own total lack of forethought or planning. And you can't let generosity end there.

So now I have a new friend (she's going to Italy in a week, y'all! Cheer her on!) And now YOU have 48 hours to bid on these wonderful things:
  • an ARC of my third book, Dreams of the Eaten
  • a "director's cut" author-annotated edition of my second book, Medicine for the Dead
  • a "personal training session" for writers
All right here, right now.

And just in case you were wondering - yes, those are our excited faces.