View From a Hotel Window, 4/28/17: Southfield, MI

Not just a parking lot, a parking structure. An auspicious way to finish up this tour’s series of Views from a Hotel Window.

I’m in Southfield, Michigan, at the Penguicon convention. Tomorrow I sign books, do my final reading of the tour, and participate on panels. If you’re in the area and have a hankering for a nifty science fiction convention, come on down (Bonus: Cory Doctorow, with whom I just did several really excellent tour stops, is the Guest of Honor).

And after Penguicon? Why, I go home! Finally! Yay!

View From a Hotel Window 4/26/17: San Francisco

Behold, the penultimate hotel window view for this tour! It’s also the view from the highest floor (I think). Hello, San Francisco.

Tonight! If you’re in Santa Cruz, come see Cory and me at the Santa Cruz High Theater at 7, sponsored by Bookshop Santa Cruz. It’ll be my first time in Santa Cruz ever. I’m very excited.

Tomorrow! Borderlands Books here in San Francisco! That’ll be at 6. Come see us there if you’re in the Bay Area.

It’s coming to a close, this tour. It’s been great so far, but I’ll be happy to be home soon.

The Big Idea: Maurice Broaddus

April has been light on Big Idea posts because I’m on tour (don’t worry, May’s gonna be packed), but let’s make sure we don’t get through this last week of the month without a fine piece of work for you to consider. Today: Maurice Broaddus brings you all the details on his new novella Buffal0 Soldier, including who the work is a love letter for.

MAURICE BROADDUS:

My novella, Buffalo Soldier–in fact the entire saga of its hero, Desmond Coke–is essentially one long love letter to my mother.

Growing up, my mother would take any opportunity to regale us with stories from her homeland of Jamaica. ANY opportunity: during family meals, before bedtime, Saturday mornings, during our favorite television shows (not hers though: she had what could only be described as an unhealthy fascination with the show, Hee Haw). She spun all manner of duppy (ghost) stories, even a long running tale of the duppy that haunted our family (which, as it turned out, was the spirit of her grandmother looking out for us).

For some reason she still found it surprising that I grew up to be a writer.

One of the genres I fell in love with was steampunk. Yet many times whenever I read steampunk stories, with their Victorian ethos and imperialist bent, I usually ended up wondering where the black folks were. All of my steamfunk stories (a term for steampunk stories seen through an Afrocentric lens), beginning with “Pimp My Airship,” all take place in the same universe, one where America lost the Revolutionary War and remained a colony of Albion. And my stories follow what some of the black folks might be up to.

My mother has since retired to Jamaica. During one of her visits here, she began telling me about her trip to a part of the island, governed by the Maroon people, only open once a year to outsiders. The British weren’t able to conquer them, so they had agreed allow the Maroon to have a separate government, and the British would colonize the rest of the island. I grew fascinated with the idea of a Maroon-run Jamaica and started playing with the alt-history repercussions of them totally keeping the British out of Jamaica. Leaving the island in control of its resources, its culture, its wealth, and its technology.

Of course Jamaica would become a superpower. Because, well, that’s what my mom would want.

In this Jamaica, undercover agent, Desmond Coke, gets drawn into a web of political intrigue when he stumbles across a young boy, Lij Tafari. As it turns out, Lij is a clone of Haile Selassie, a messiah figure to the Rastafarians, who the government plans to raise as their puppet to control the people. Desmond frees the boy and goes on the run. This is where the story of Buffalo Soldier begins.

In Buffalo Soldier, Desmond Coke and Lij are chased through the nation state of Tejas and into the First Nations territory. As they hide from Jamaican intelligence, they are pursued by business and political interests. As they search for a place to call home, Desmond tells Lij stories. The heart of the novella is about the power of story and how it helps us create a sense of home wherever we go.

Plus shoot outs, giant robots, assassins, and sword fights because that’s what else my mom would want.

Well … probably.

—-

Buffalo Soldier: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s site. Follow him on Twitter.

Checking In on Monday

O hai, Whatever readers! Here’s me and Cory Doctorow just hanging out, as we do.

For those of you in the LA area, remember that he and I are going to be a Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena tomorrow at 7pm, talking about our new books and life, the universe, and everything. And then on Wednesday, we’ll do it again at Bookshop Santa Cruz! And then on Thursday, we’ll do it YET AGAIN at Borderlands books in San Francisco! We got a thing going, is what I’m saying, and you can be part of it, if you want.

Otherwise: Hey, how’s it going?

View From a Hotel Window, 4/21/17: Los Angeles

Look, it’s LA, being LA. 

I’m here for a few days! I get to catch up on my sleep! Wheee!

No event today, but tomorrow I am signing books at the Mysterious Galaxy booth at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books (3pm-4pm booth 368), and then on Sunday at 1:30, Cory Doctorow and I talk about life, the universe and everything, also at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Come to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books! And see me! And also, you know. Other authors too, I guess.

View From a Hotel Window, 4/20/17: San Diego

Parking lot in there. Just barely.

Tonight: San Diego! Mysterious Galaxy bookstore! 7pm! Be there or be somewhere else!

Tomorrow: Nothing! I have a travel day and a break. BUT Saturday and Sunday I’ll be at the LA Times Festival of Books. I’m signing at the Mysterious Galaxy booth an Saturday at 3, and on Sunday have a panel with Cory Doctorow, followed by another signing. Come see us!

View From a Hotel Window, 4/19/17: Seattle

Not a parking lot, but there is street parking, so that maybe counts?

Tonight: I’m at University Temple United Methodist Church for an event sponsored by the University Bookstore (if memory serves the church is across the street from the bookstore). That’s at 7. Come see me then (but remember it’s a ticketed event)!

Tomorrow: I’m all the down in San Diego for an event at another of my favorite bookstores, Mysterious Galaxy. Also at 7. See you soon, San Diego!

View From a Hotel Window 4/18/17: Aurora, CO

That’s almost the Platonic ideal of the hotel parking lot photo.

Tonight: I’m visiting Boulder for the first time ever! My event is at the Boulder Bookstore at 7:30. Hope to see you there if you’re in the area!

Tomorrow: Seattle — one of my favorite stops — and University Bookstore (actually it will be at the University Temple United Methodist Church). Remember this is a ticketed event, so if you still need tickets (they admit two people each), you can still get them here.

Today is International Kristine Blauser Scalzi Day

Today is the birthday of the most fabulous person I know, namely, my wife, Kristine Blauser Scalzi, for whom my love is boundless. If you might wish to offer her felicitations on this most auspicious of days, I think that would be lovely, and I would thank you.

View From a Hotel Window, 4/17/17: Santa Fe

Not quite pool season in Santa Fe, yet.

Tonight: I am at the Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe, having conversation with George RR Martin. As one does!

Tomorrow: Boulder, Colorado, at the Boulder bookstore. Really looking forward to that.

Hello world! I’m back on tour!

Reader Request Week 2017 Wrapup

Missed any of last week’s Reader Request Week posts? Here’s the whole set for your perusal.

Reader Request Week 2017 #1: Punching Nazis

Reader Request Week 2017 #2: Those Darn Millennials

Reader Request Week 2017 #3: Utopias

Reader Request Week 2017 #4: Haters and How I Deal With Them

Reader Request Week 2017 #5: Remembering Dreams

Reader Request Week 2017 #6: Reading as Performance

Reader Request Week 2017 #7: Parents, Their Age, and Their Kids

Reader Request Week 2017 #8: The Path to Publication

Reader Request Week 2017 #9: Writery Short Bits

Reader Request Week 2017 #10: Short Bits

Happy reading!

Reader Request Week 2017 #10: Short Bits

Happy Easter! Let’s close out Reader Request Week by running through a bunch of questions I didn’t otherwise get to, shall we?

Tracy Benton: If you were falsely accused of a minor crime that would ruin your life, what would you do? (By ruin your life, I mean cause you to lose the trust and respect of your family and friends, as opposed to put you in jail.)

Well, I mean, I’m regularly falsely accused by malign dopes of a major crime that would absolutely ruin my life, lose me friends and put me in jail, so being falsely accused of a minor crime at this point would be an upgrade. And I would respond to it like I do with this other nonsense, which is to point out it’s entirely false and that the people who promote it are assholes, and then move on with my life.

Catherine N.: Have you ever considered running for office? We definitely need more POC and WOC but we also need men who are willing to listen and learn and admit when they are wrong.

I have no plans to run for office, no. One, I think I’m more effective politically doing what I’m doing. Two, I live in a highly conservative part of Ohio and it’s unlikely I could get elected. Three, Krissy doesn’t want me to. Four, I have contractual obligations for the next decade. Five, I would have to take a pay cut. Six, the constant cycle of having to suck up to people for money would depress the shit out of me. Seven, I suspect the job would make me unhappy. Put it all together, and, no. Probably not a thing I will do.

Sam: What are your thoughts on assisted dying?

For me: Not yet, please. Otherwise, I think it’s fine for other people to decide when to check out, and to do so without violence, and with the help of others, if they so choose.

YuriPup: How do I take a good picture?

Take about a hundred pictures of whatever you’re aiming at. One of them is likely to be pretty good. This is how professionals do it (and me too). There are other things, too, but this is a pretty big part of it.

Topherman: Have you ever participated in meditation or mindfulness practices, or did you do some other something to cultivate such a strong sense of your own emotional range and how to manage or direct it?

Well, one, remember I look like I have it together all the time because you’re seeing me through this blog, which is (generally speaking) a highly mediated experience — I can edit to make it look like I’m a cool and composed cucumber. In real life, I’m a bit messier. Two, in a general sense I have enough life experience to know what things are going to have an actual impact on my life, and knowing that makes it easier to calibrate my responses (after any immediate emotional flush). So no, no formal meditation or mindfulness exercises, but I am mindful in an overall sense. Which I think helps.

Jayglickman: Are we Americans, as a population, significantly dumber than we were 50 years ago, especially since we started relying on increasingly sophisticated machines to help us think?

I don’t think we’re dumber, no, although I do think there’s been a decades-long push, particularly from the political right, to make us less critical of fact and more reflexively tribal in our political affiliation. That makes us feel like we are dumber than we might have been otherwise, as reflected in who is our current president. I don’t think the complexity of machines have anything to do with it, although the machines have made it easier for those who wish to spread disinformation (and therefore distrust in actual fact).

Jill Q: If you could witness one historical event, not interact, just witness, what would it be? So you can’t kill Hitler, but you also won’t die if you go back to the Great Fire of London.

It being Easter, it’s a fine day to note I’d be interested in seeing Jesus’ final week, to learn, among other things, if the resurrection was an actual thing. To be clear, I suspect very strongly it was not; Jesus had many fine qualities (at least as reported, and assuming he actually existed at all), but I doubt that actually being divine was one of them. I suspect he stayed dead. Be that as it may, as an agnostic I have to admit the possibility that I don’t know and that my opinion, based on actual physics as it might be, could nevertheless be wrong. I’d like to know.

Captain’s Quarters: Ahoy there matey! When I hear Walk the Moon’s song “Shut up and Dance,” it makes me think of how you met yer wife. Any particular thoughts on this specific song? Do ye two scalawags even have a song?

In this specific context, ours would be “Friday I’m in Love,” by the Cure, that being the first song we danced to when we met. I think the “Shut Up and Dance” song is pleasant enough, and otherwise its general lyrical content is not inappropriate to thinking about how Krissy and I met. Although, honestly, Krissy doesn’t really have to tell me to shut up and dance. We like dancing.

Don Gilstrap: Is the accepted disdain for the Star Wars prequels a bit over the top?

Nah, they’re actually pretty terrible movies and they deserve their criticism — and more to the point, George Lucas deserves criticism, because he did a terrible job with them. I disagree they’re rewatchable; I don’t particularly have an interest in doing so. I should note that my problem is not the general story line, which is fine, or the overall design of the prequel universe, which is cluttered but fun to explore. The problem is in the execution of the films themselves, which is leaden (and that rests on Lucas’ shoulders as writer and director). The smartest thing Lucas did was sell the universe to Disney and walk away; it clearly wasn’t fun for him anymore, and Disney is doing a much better job with the universe than he was doing the last several years. So, yes. The disdain is earned. Fortunately the new films are pretty darn good and all the ancillary material (novels, games, etc) is chugging along nicely too.

Meg Frank: What do you think is the most urgent domestic threat facing the US population?

At this very moment, I think an administration of corrupt, incompetent bigots and its enablers in both houses of Congress is a clear and present danger to the well-being of the country, held in check at this point mostly by the fact that they have no idea how to actually do things. But that’s not a great restraint, if you get my drift. Mind you, they are just the end-game manifestation of other, more existential threats to the commonweal of the nation, but those would take more than just a paragraph to talk about. So yeah, right now, I think Trump and his pals are an actual threat that needs to be addressed and dealt with (through legal, non-violent means, to be absolutely clear).

Mike Marsh: How do you feel about the increasingly prevalent use of anonymous sourcing in news reports? Do you think it damages the credibility of the newspaper? Do you think it is necessary for getting to the “real news?”

I dispute it’s “increasingly prevalent”; it’s been a common practice for decades. I don’t think it particularly damages the credibility of a news organization to use them if the information is accurate (and the news organization otherwise has rules about how they are used, and when). And yes, they can be useful in terms of helping the press perform its role. Now, I’ll additionally note that there are particular news organizations I would trust more than others when they report using an anonymous source, and (perhaps against expectation) that trust is not necessarily along the axis of perceived political orientation of the outlet.

David Foster: Why do you seem to be enthralled with cuss words in your novels?

I don’t particularly think I am. I have at least a couple of novels (Zoe’s Tale and Fuzzy Nation come to mind immediately) that are pretty low on the cuss meter, the The God Engines, which is my bleakest and most graphically violent story to date, I’m pretty sure has no cussing in it at all. Otherwise, I have cussing in my books roughly analogous to the amount of cussing I hear in my life, so, I don’t know. Maybe I know people who cuss a lot (note: Kiva Lagos in The Collapsing Empire is definitely an outlier).

Vonneanton: Your thoughts on Journey’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Steve Perry’s decision not to sing with the band. Classy and humble, or persnickety?

I’m pleased with Journey’s induction and I think it’s entirely appropriate; Journey represents a sub-genre of rock (specifically, album-oriented rock) that was often critically maligned but undeniably popular and influential in terms of pop music. As the most popular band of that type of rock, they deserve a spot in Hall. As for Perry’s decision not to sing with the band, well, you know what? The dude is 68 years old, and as far as I know (indeed I think as far as anyone knows), he’s not been singing regularly for at least fifteen years. Anyone who’s expecting a basically retired near-septuagenarian to be at peak form for one night — a night where people would be expecting him to be perfect — may have been expecting too much. I trust Perry’s instinct not to sing in that case. I do think Perry’s induction speech shout out to Arnel Pineda, who has been singing with Journey for the last decade, was super classy, and I’m glad he did it.

Sistercoyote: Do you consider yourself a Hamilton (“I am not throwing away my shot”) or a Burr (“I’m willing to wait for it”)?

Burr in the streets, Hamilton in the sheets. More seriously, I don’t think the two concepts are mutually exclusive; I think there are some opportunities that require immediate action (i.e., not throwing away one’s shot), and others that are better cultivated until they are ripe (i.e., worth the waiting for). The secret, I suspect, is knowing which are which.

Aaron Dukas: If you were to do your life over on the condition of not being a writer (in any form), what career do you think you’d like to explore?

I used to say “history teacher” for this, and it’s still a top alternate life choice, but in the past decade I’ve really been into photography and I think maybe I’d do that. I think I’d be pretty good at it. Recently I took a bunch of photos of the final concert of this year’s JoCo Cruise, and I think that they’re some of the best pictures I’ve taken, in terms of capturing the moment and energy of the event. Between stuff like that and portraiture, which I also think I’m pretty good at, I think I could be reasonably artistically happy as a photographer.

(Also, to answer another question that was asked: Currently I’m using a Nikon D750, usually without flash, and Photoshop and Camerabag 2.)

Patrick V: Which Scamperbeast plants its butt in your face more?

Spice, and it’s not even close. Sugar likes to be cuddled more, but she doesn’t do a lot of early morning butts in face.

Sam Brady: How do the celebrity and fame parts of your career affect your family? Meaning–people say things (both positive and negative) about you on the Internet, you travel quite a bit and devote a lot of other time to your career apart from just the writing, and I’m sure people recognize you in public from time to time. How do your wife and daughter react to all of that? How do they feel about it?

My fame is specific and low-wattage, so on a daily basis it doesn’t affect the family at all. Krissy once got recognized in an airport, which was odd for her, and from time to time outside the specific venues of my fame (conventions and book fairs), someone will connect Athena or Krissy to me (the unusual last name helps). So far, both of them have taken it in stride and with some amusement. In general it’s low key and not too much to worry about.

Lym: Have you and Krissy given much thought or made any preparations or plans for your upcoming empty nest?

Well, Krissy has a job, and I have to write books, so I expect immediately our day to day lives won’t change too considerably (also, Athena will be an hour away, so we’ll probably still get to see her more than if she went to school across the country). As for the rest of it, well. We’ll see! If suddenly we adopt sixty more pets, you may assume it’s gotten to us.

Thanks everyone for another great Reader Request Week. Let’s do it again in roughly a year!

Reader Request Week 2017 #9: Writery Short Bits

Coming to the end of the Reader Request Week, so let’s quickly cruise through a bunch of questions relating to writing and/or what I’m doing in my career.

DangerKitty: Are you ever interested in doing screenplays for TV series, such as Doctor Who, Star Trek, Black Mirror, etc? Why or why not?

I wrote a screenplay for The Dispatcher not long after I finished the novella, because I wanted the practice, and it was an interesting experience (and the screenplay was decent). I’ve not been asked to write a screenplay for any currently existing TV show, and while I don’t rule out the possibility in the future, there are other people for whom it is their full-time gig; I suspect they will get first dibs. The most likely path of me doing screenplays is me doing them for shows based on my own work.

Kevin G: Print vs ebook. Some people are die-hard paper-philes, and I now resent books that close up on me without a paperweight. Others are agnostic. Do you have a preference, and do you have thoughts on why?

I like print books for when I’m at home and ebooks for when I travel and otherwise have no real preference; words are words. There seems to be some indication that the brain processes words on a screen differently than words on a page, but anecdotally it all seems to work the same for me. I’ll note generally speaking my books sell better electronically than in hardcover; I think that says a little bit about who my fans are.

Kennelliver: Having purchased Randal Munroe’s book, Thing Explainer, a description of various difficult scientific concepts using only the 1000 most common words in the English Language, how about writing a story or novella doing the same? Or only the 500 most common? Or only the 100 most common?

Well, see, that would require effort on my part, and I’m not sure I want to bother. However, I know of a grandmaster who wrote an entire novel in Basic English (that’s the 1,500 most common English words): It’s Joe Haldeman, and it’s his first novel War Year. He did a pretty good job of it, too.

Sparrow: How do you spend your non-travel, non-event downtime when you are in tour?

Depends. Usually I only have a couple hours between arriving and event, so I’m likely to spend it napping or catching up on non-tour-related work (life doesn’t stop just because I’m on tour). If I have a little more time and I have a friend in the area, I’ll see them. If I’m somewhere for more than a day and don’t have a packed schedule, I may get in some sightseeing. But that’s rare; a tour stop is a business trip, not a leisure trip. As someone asked about food in a different question, I mostly eat at restaurants local to the hotel or event space, or just get room service.

Tom Combs: Why did you decide to go in a different direction in creating The Collapsing Empire instead of doing another OMW book? I would have thought there would have been some pressure (at least nudging) to keep the series going from publisher types and anxious fans dying for another taste.

Because I wanted to. Also, there was no real pressure on it. Tor was not exactly unhappy with the idea that I would be creating a whole new space opera series for them, especially because in that bigass contract I have with them I also promised them at least one more Old Man’s War book. It’s the best of both worlds for everyone involved. Also, with regard to the Old Man’s War series, I never want to be in a position where I’m just grinding them out. I want to write them when I have something cool I want to do in the universe. Otherwise, I won’t like writing them, which means other people won’t like reading them.

Kate: You’ve mentioned you’re not big on description in your writing, but do you picture your characters in your head?

Sure; they’re not mannequins. Sometimes they look not dissimilar to people I know; sometimes they look not unlike notable people; sometimes they have no precedent in the real world (that I know of). I’m pretty sure at this point most people know that Jane Sagan looks a hell of a lot like my wife; this is not a bad look for her. But unless there’s a reason for me to describe a person in the text (usually relating to plot), I generally don’t.

Troy Gordon: With potential TV series in the future, do you ever worry about not having enough creative input into the visualization of the sets, characters, aliens races, etc.? Do you get to have some veto power when it looks like somebody is going to absolutely brutalize your concept on projects like this?

At this point we usually negotiate that I’m to be an executive producer on any series/movie, which means I will get some degree of input, yes. But I expect with any film/series I might be involved in, there will be some suggestions I’ll make that will not be taken, and some complaints/issues others will override. It’s the nature of the beast.

Matt Coats: I’ve always wondered what an author’s perspective was on used book stores. I know you don’t get anything on the sale of the book the 2nd time around, but are you supportive in general? Do you feel like this expands your reach? Thanks!

I like used bookstores just fine; I bought a lot of books that way growing up, and then when I found an author I really liked, converted to buying their books new. Also, sometimes you can’t buy a book new — a book may be out of print. In which case, finding that book in a used bookstore is the only way to get it. Either way, I’m just fine with used bookstores. I do hope people who find me in these stores eventually decide to pay for new books.

Jessica Drew: What are your thoughts on those who refer to science fiction as not real literature?

I say “bless their hearts” as I soak in my hot tub, reading the collected works of Philip K. Dick.

Mike M: I have two of your books that are signed, both in red ink. Do you always sign your books in red? Also, your signature is slightly on the large side- do you tone it down to sign tight spaces on documents, for example, or just let rip?

You might have gotten books signed when I was on the Redshirts tour, during which I signed books with red ink, because it seemed appropriate, all things considered. It’s not an always thing. Also, my signature scales quite nicely, actually.

Jack: How do you feel when a previously politically neutral writer uses his/her/their talents to go full bore political?

I tend to think that in fact they weren’t politically neutral before, they just never put their views into their fiction writing. Also, you know. I’ve had people read Old Man’s War and think I was a political conservative; I’ve had people read work I’ve not put any explicit real-world political slant into and say it was wildly political, because they know of my politics outside the work. People can get things wrong and/or project. That said, if someone’s real-world politics get injected into their work, well, if the work is still readable and interesting, meh. That’s fine. My problem is not when politics get into fiction, but when politics make the fiction less interesting.

Christopher Tower: Is the intent of science fiction to predict the future?

Maybe some science fiction writers intend to predict the future; I don’t. I do try to plausibly extrapolate from the modern day when I write, but that’s not the same thing as trying to predict. I think the writers who do try to predict probably have a very high failure rate. I do occasionally get people giving me credit for predicting a thing that’s being developed in the real world that is similar to something I put in my books (neural networks, artificial blood, computerized assistants). And, sure, if you want to give me credit for those, I’ll take it, because why not. But a) most things I’ve imagined others have too, so the credit I’m being given is more a reflection of people’s reading habits than anything else, b) I didn’t predict it, I just thought, hey, this will be a cool and/or useful thing for my book. So, yeah. I’m not in the prediction business, I’m in the “write a cool book with neat stuff in it” business. Sometimes that neat stuff comes true.

Lym: I’ve read other authors who say that book tours result in relatively few book sales, certainly not enough to cover the cost of the tour (if they finance it themselves) or the opportunity cost of not being able to write or do other work during that time. What real benefits do you see from your extensive tours? Building fan base? Keeping fan base enthusiastic? Other things?

Book tours a) help to move enough books to get on bestseller lists the first week of release, b) assist with strengthening ties between authors/publishers and booksellers/libraries, c) work to develop long-term relationships between authors and readers, d) generate national/local media interest, among other things. If you approach a book tour as a short-term profit center, then no, they they don’t make much sense, as most tours, even for successful authors, don’t “earn out.” I suspect my current one, for example, will zero out financially. If you approach a book tour as a tool for generating long-term, knock-on benefits for the author and publisher, however, they begin to make rather more sense. I mean, Tor doesn’t put me on ridiculously long tours just for fun. They work for both of us, over the length of time.

Science Marc: What do you think of Charles Bukowski’s poem: “so you want to be a writer?” Which says, in essence, that if writing doesn’t consume you at the expense of everything else in your life, *don’t do it*.

The poem in question is here; my reaction to it is, meh. I think it’s fine to be a writer even if you don’t have a blazing, enduring passion for it that eclipses everything else in your life. Maybe you just like to do it, and it’s fun, so why not? Bukowski might say that’s not enough but in the immortal words of The Dude, that’s, just, like, his opinion, man. Personally I think it might be more accurate to say, if you can’t not be a writer, and if not writing makes you miserable, then maybe you should be a writer, and make time for it in your life. Because otherwise you’ll be unhappy. And why be unhappy if you can avoid it?

Reader Request Week 2017 #8: The Path to Publication

Teresa asks:

From the moment that you wrote the first draft, how long it did it take you to see your first work of fiction published?

Heh. Well, it depends on what one means by my first work of fiction.

If, for example, my first work of fiction is thought to be the very first complete story I ever wrote, which is a story called “Best Friends: Or, another reason not to get sick,” then the answer is thirty-three years and counting, since I wrote it in 1984 for Mr. Heyes’ freshman English composition class, and aside from a few copies I ran off for friends (mostly the ones on whom the story was based), no one’s ever seen it, or is likely to. It was written by 14-year me and while it was good enough for the class — I was the only person in three sections of the class to get an “A” — I suspect it is of very limited interest to anyone else.

(With that said, I think the story’s opening graph makes it clear that my general advice of “have good opening lines” is something I knew early on. “Well, if this has taught me anything, it’s not to get sick. I get sick for three days, and the world changed” is pretty solid, even if it has a problem with tenses.)

(And yes, I do still have the complete story, along with just about every other story I wrote as a teen. No, I won’t show them to you. I’m doing you a favor.)

If one discounts juvenilia, then my next actual complete work of fiction might be considered to be a poem I wrote, “Penelope,” which I wrote in 1991. It’s written from the point of view of the wife of Odysseus, waiting for her husband to return and delaying having to pick a suitor by weaving and then unraveling a burial shroud. I don’t usually consider it to be fiction — my brain generally sections out poetry and prose fiction — but inasmuch as it does have a point of view character, and that point of view character is not meant to be me (spoiler: but it kind of was, inasmuch as I was writing it for a girl I pined for and wanted close to me and hey, look, allegory and metaphor), it could be called fiction. As it happens, “Penelope” was published in Miniatures, my book of very short stories, which was published last year (literally on the last day of the year). So that would be 25 years. I’d note I didn’t try to publish it prior to Miniatures; it was written for a specific person in mind.

If we toss out that poem and stick to prose, the next piece of completed fiction I wrote was Agent to the Stars, which I wrote in the summer of 1997 as my “practice novel,” i.e., the novel I wrote to see if I could write a novel (turns out I could). Inasmuch as it was my practice novel, I didn’t write it with the intent to sell it, but when I created my web site at Scalzi.com, I decided to put it up here and let people download it if they liked, and if they wanted, to send me money for it. So it was self-published, and that was in 1999. If you want to count self-publishing on one’s Web site as actual publication (back in 1999, I would note, it would generally not have been considered so), then it took years. If you don’t count that as publishing, then you’d have to wait until 2005, when the hardcover version was published by Subterranean Press. In which case: eight years.

But it’s important to note that Agent got published (by someone else) because that publisher asked to publish it; I didn’t shop it. If you’re curious about what piece of fiction of mine was the first that I wrote with the intent to try to have it published, and which was then in fact actually published by someone else, then that would be “Alien Animal Encounters.” I wrote it in 2001 and immediately submitted it to Strange Horizons magazine, on the basis that I liked the magazine, and also because it would accept electronic submissions, and I didn’t own a printer. For the life of me I can’t remember exactly when I wrote it, but I did submit it almost immediately after I wrote it, and it was published pretty quickly after that. That was October 2001, so I suspect I wrote it a couple months before that. Let’s say three months to be safe. So: Three months, from writing it to it being published.

(Also, all of these were first drafts, in the sense that I edit as I write, so when I type “The End” I just do a quick copyedit run through. I don’t edit less than people who write drafts, I just do it as I go along. Works for me; your mileage my vary.)

So: Depending on how one chooses to define what was my first work of fiction, and what constitutes publishing, the answer to the gap between first draft and the pub date is three months, or two years, or eight years, or 25 years, or 33 years and counting.

And you know what? I think that’s about average, as far as writers are concerned. There are lots of places one could count as the starting point for one’s career, and lots of different opinions as to what constitutes being published.

The important thing here is: I did start writing. And I did start getting published.

Everything progressed from there. And here we are.

Reader Request Week 2017 #7: Parents, Their Age, and Their Kids

Christine asks:

I recently had my first (and likely only) child, shortly before my 40th birthday. I’m finding the brainpower needed to parent is something I have a lot more of now, at this age. I have more emotional maturity, coping mechanisms, and perspective than I did even as a 30 year old. Do you believe that having children in one’s 20s is more or less advantageous for the child? What about for the parents? And the million dollar question — how do I raise a kid who is progressive and kind and acknowledges her (white, middle-class, Bay Area-dwelling) privilege without being an insufferable know-it-all?

I mean, the second part of that reader request is kind of separate from the first part, so let me answer both.

With regard to parental age, and all other things being okay in their lives of the would-be new parents (a biiiiig qualification), I think becoming a new parent at any age between 25 and 45 is going to mostly turn out okay for the kid. Earlier than 25, I worry about the emotional maturity and financial wherewithal of the parents and how that affects the kid; later than 45, I worry about the parent’s energy levels and frankly ability to stay alive while their kid goes through their entire childhood. This is not to suggest people can’t be great new parents before 25 or after 45; they absolutely can, and I know several people in each case who are (or have been). I do think it adds a few more challenges, however.

Overall, though, I think age is less an issue in terms of what’s advantageous for a kid’s childhood than partner and family support for the parents. I tend to believe it’s better for kids to have parents who are together (and positively engaged with each other); I tend to believe it’s better for parents to have family and friends to call on for help and encouragement and knowledge. I think these things can mitigate other issues where parents (or a parent) have other challenging aspects to their lives.

In the case of my own child, I think Athena’s childhood was substantially improved by having both her mother and me in the same house, and by having Krissy’s family nearby as she grew up. It helped us too — Krissy and I could individually do other things in our life knowing that the other parent had our child-rearing back, and having family nearby meant, among other things, that Krissy and I could have the occasional date night to ourselves (this is important).

With that said, I can say that when I became a parent at 29, I personally felt rather more equipped to handle parenthood than I would have at 25 or 20, which was the age my mother was when she had me. At 25, I was by my own estimation a barely-acceptable actual adult; I wouldn’t have wanted to have me in charge of a tiny human. Forget age 20 entirely; despite my confidence then that I knew everything, I in fact was barely competent to cross a street. At 29 I was working, I had calmed down as a human, and I was looking forward to having a family with my wife; I was in the right place for me, in other words, to become a parent and father.

I suspect that’s the key — the best time to become a parent (presuming any sort of control over the matter) may be the time when you look forward to it, because then you’re present and engaged. And that can happen at 25, or 29, or 32, or 38, or 42 or whenever. Everyone’s different. I think I became a parent at the right time; if you feel the same about whatever age you became a parent, chances are you are correct.

As for raising good and kind children who are also progressive and recognize their privilege: Well, the first question is — are you good and kind and progressive and recognize your privilege? Your child will see you in the world and you will be first adult they look to in order to understand what the expectation is for being a functional human and (eventually) adult. So the first step, I think, is to recognize that you should be the things you want your child to be. That whole “do as I say, not as I do” thing really doesn’t work with respect to moral character.

The second thing is I think it’s easy to consider one’s self good and kind and progressive and cognizant of one’s privilege if one only ever consorts with people who are like one’s self, however one defines one’s self across several axes. As an example, one of the reasons that I think it was important for Athena to live here in Bradford as she grew up is that, as child of well-off parents who are politically liberal, she every day of her life went to school with kids of blue-collar, conservative parents, and saw the differences in opinion and lifestyle (and fundamental, grounding assumptions about life). These kids aren’t abstractions for her; they’re her friends, and I think that’s going to make a positive difference for her in terms of how she builds her own life and character, even as she herself is politically pretty liberal and fairly in tune with her own set of privileges (I just checked with Athena on this assertion of mine; she agrees).

So to that end I would consider making sure that your child is not only ever exposed to folks just like her or in her particular situation, and that this “exposure” to others doesn’t constitute what would essentially be a field trip to the “other people zoo.” Actual tolerance and appreciation of diversity occurs through living it, not just knowing it’s out there. Also, this works for everyone, not just progressives; it’s useful for conservatives (and their kids) to get out their bubbles as well, for example.

Third, and this is important: Remember that your quest to raise a good and kind human is not going to be without its potholes, because you are human and so is your kid. My kid is great, and there were still moments I was all who are you and why are you acting like such a horrible person? And to be fair, there were moments she might have asked the same of me.

The good news for all of this, Christine, is that it seems like you’re ready to take on the challenge of being a decent parent. Good! It’s a continual process. Trust me on that.

Today’s New Books and ARCs, 4/13/17

As we head into the holiday weekend, here is a stack of very fine new books and ARCs for you to peruse. What here would you like to find in your Easter basket? Tell us in the comments!

Reader Request Week 2017 #6: Reading as Performance

Katrina Archer, who is a writer (and a former student of mine) asks:

Since you’ve recently been on tour, I have a question about the mechanics of preparation. Preparation for the *performance* not the travel.

As I’m in Canada I haven’t seen what you do on tour, although I have attended your readings at cons. Is a tour mostly readings, or are there other performance aspects? How do you select the reading and other material, and do you practice or mostly improvise? What do you feel is the most important thing to do to meet audience expectations? I’ve noticed many authors struggle to make the transition from solitary writer to performer.

First, I really do want to do a tour of Canada. It’s on my list of things to do.

Second, I do in fact think a lot of about the performance aspects of a reading, precisely because it is so very different from what writers usually do. The act of writing is usually solitary and silent and done with no one else around (or if they’re around, like in a coffee shop, incidental to the writing act). A reading, on the other hand, is meant to be social, and heard, and in front of (optimally) as many people as possible. Writing is an introverted act of creation, and a reading is an extroverted act of expression. Writing is a process, a reading is a performance.

Which takes a massive shift of gears, and not every writer is good at that, which is not a great thing when a writer who is not particularly good at it nevertheless does a reading or goes on tour. Those of us who have been to readings on a regular basis have been to the event where the writer hasn’t managed it, and it’s kind of deadly — the reading is flat, regardless of how good the text is, because the writer, as a performer, just can’t sell it. So the audience sits there, blankly polite, until they can get their book signed.

This is not to criticize these writers overmuch, I want to note. Performance is not a natural state of action for most writers, who again tend toward introversion as their default. Performance is draining and weird and it exposes you directly to the judgement of others, which is its own thing as well (and which can further affect the performance). You have to work at it to get good at it, and most writers don’t really ever have to start working at it until after they’ve published, i.e., they’ve created something people want them to read. Which is to say they’ve spent all this time learning to master one specific skill set, and when they get good at it, people want them to bolt on an entirely different skill set and take it on the road.

Which is why, in my anecdotal experience, the writers who are good at the performance of reading right out of the gate are often ringers — that is, the ones with some previous performance experience. Writers who have acted or played music or did presentations of some sort — anything which meant getting in front of people in some way, and getting used to the rigors of performance. It also helps if the writer is in fact extroverted, which is unusual but sometimes happens. Even “not actually extroverted but can fake it for a few hours” will suffice.

In my particular case, I did acting in high school and college and I can fake extroversion and I’m relatively quick-witted in real life. Also, for various reasons, for good and ill (which could be a Reader Request Week piece all in itself), I’ve long been used to the idea that when I open my mouth people want to listen. Put it all together and I’m a fairly ideal writer to do a reading…

… and I would still fail miserably at a reading without adequate preparation. Likewise, a writer who is not like me in terms of being used to being up in front of people can, if well-prepared, still offer up a presentation that hits the mark.

So, how to properly prepare? Well, this is what I suggest folks do, based on my own experience.

1. Recognize it is a performance. Which is to say that you can’t just go in front of a room, mumble your way through fifteen minutes of text, answer a couple of questions and go home (I mean, you can, but it won’t turn out the way you want it to). You actually have to be up and on, from the moment you get to the event until the moment you’re done. Which is draining, but can also be fun. When you read, don’t just read the text, act it. When you’re answering questions, don’t answer quickly, answer completely. When you’re signing, work to make it so the person you’re signing for feels like that those 30 seconds with you is a pretty good 30 seconds of their life. Know all this going in, and prepare.

2. It’s okay to role-play a little. If you’re not the sort of person is who naturally up and extroverted and ready to deal with public events, here’s a useful trick: Ask yourself “what would an up, extroverted version of me do in this situation?” And then do that. It’s called having a “public face.” I definitely have a public face — a version of me tuned for performance and dealing with the friendly strangers who show up to my events — and having cultivated that helps me on those days when I am just so not into being in front of people, or, alternately, when an event has gone on too long and my brain has clicked over from “socialized introvert” to “everyone in this building must die in fire.” If you see me at a event, you’re seeing me in what I call my “performing monkey mode.” It’s me, just on.

3. Plan your event. I mean, people are taking time out of their lives to see you, right? You might as well have a plan. When I tour, I plan specifically what things are going to happen, and how they’re supposed to work. Here’s my usual plan for my presentation, which clocks in at about an hour:

  • A primary reading (usually from an upcoming work, not the book I’m on tour for, on the basis that people who come out to see me should get something no one else gets) which will take 15-20 minutes;
  • A secondary, humorous reading (because people like to laugh) which takes about ten minutes;
  • Sometimes an additional piece (usually a Whatever post that’s on point), which can take another ten minutes;
  • If someone brings a ukulele, as they sometimes do, a short song (with patter, no more than five minutes);
  • Question and answer period, for the remainder of the hour.

And then I sign for however long it takes, and budget 30 seconds to a minute of time for each person in line.

I use this general outline because it works for me, although I tweak from tour to tour — this tour, for example, the primary reading runs a little long, so there’s no third piece, the ukulele bit comes and goes (it’s dependent on others bringing the instrument), and the Q&A sometimes goes a little longer this time around — which is fine, it’s often the best part of the event for the audience and me, because Q&A plays to my personal strengths as a performer.

The outline for each writer will be different — some people will read for a shorter amount of time, or stick to a single piece, or whatever — but I think it’s important to plan ahead so you as performer have fewer surprises, and so over the course of doing a bunch of readings you can get into a groove with the material you have on hand. Speaking of which:

4. Have some flexibility. I go on tour with a larger selection of stuff than I actually read, on the thinking that some nights, with some crowds, some material might be better than other material. Likewise, if I’m doing a reading at an event that’s being broadcast to the public, I’ll read from the newly-published book rather than the upcoming work, because I want to keep the upcoming work relatively down low. And for events where I’m teaming up with another writer, I may only read a short piece (so we both have time for reading) or we’ll abandon readings altogether and have a conversation, an idea that’s best when you have two people who can blather on and/or at least one of those people is willing to direct the conversational traffic. The point is to plan ahead enough that you have the ability to makes changes on the fly that will give everyone a better experience.

5. Don’t panic. Readings are work, and not every writer is going to be great at them right out of the box. But the thing to recognize is that when you go to do a reading, you’ve generally got a pretty easy crowd — these are people who actually went out of their way to see you and already like at least some of the stuff you do. They want you to succeed, and will give you leeway to do so. Remember that, when you’re up there, doing the reading. It makes it easier. And the more you do it, the easier it gets, most of the time.

With all that said:

6. It’s okay if you discover performance is not for you. Some writers will never be great performers and will never like being up in front of people, reading their work. For those writers, maybe other sorts of presentations (like an interview, or panel presentations, for example) might be better. Or maybe you just… don’t, and find other things that work for you, publicity-wise. There isn’t any one right way to do this stuff, you know. It’s just finding out what’s right for you.

So find out! You might be surprised.

Reader Request Week 2017 #5: Remembering Dreams

Fabrizio Toso asks:

Do you remember what you dream? If yes, has anything from your dreams found its way in your books?

I do remember a lot of what I dream, yes. Not all of it — some of it slips past me in the morning — but certainly enough of my dreams that I have a memory bank filled with them. I suspect this is also because I’m generally a lucid dreamer, which means I almost always know when I’m dreaming. Being a lucid dreamer has a number of advantages (for example, I’ve never really had a nightmare, because I’ll just wake myself up if the dream becomes too unpleasant), and one of them, I think, is that because some part of my brain is always observing in the dream, it remembers to remember most of the interesting dreams.

That said, I can’t think of anything I’ve dreamt that’s ended up in a novel, or a dream being an inspiration for something I’ve written in one of my stories. My dreams, frankly, aren’t particularly well-plotted, and even in individual moments they’re often disjointed and nonsensical. Even the ones that have a throughline aren’t the stuff of great literature. For example, the other night I dreamed I was skydiving in Australia, and then suddenly I was on the ground, walking around, and since I didn’t remember landing I was worried I was dead, so I went into a donut shop to order a donut, on the idea that if the person at the register could see me, I was clearly alive (she could see me; I ordered a donut; I only had American and Canadian money on me so couldn’t buy it). As a dream, mildly interesting; as something that should make its way into a story of mine, not so much.

(Honestly, most dreams are pretty boring, including mine, when they’re described to other people. The ones most people want to share are of the “I was in some place! And then something surreal happened!” variety, which I’m okay hearing as long as one is relatively quick about it. I’ll listen to nightmare stories also, because I don’t have them and I’m sympathetic to people who have had a good night’s sleep ruined by them. But generally, meh. Dreams, like one’s children’s school achievements, exist in the “more interesting to you than to anyone else” category. Please share, if you must, briefly.)

In terms of plotting, or of vivid imagery, that’s relevant to my books, my most productive time in bed is not dream time, but that period of time either just before I go to sleep, or just after I wake up. That’s when the connections in my brain are kind of whipping around wildly, and I’ll get interesting ideas out of the blue or something close to visions that are applicable to things I’m writing. I’m not asleep and it’s not dreaming, but I’m not always precisely awake, either (it’s also the time where my brain creates amazing melodies for songs, and if I will myself more awake, I can never remember them precisely. I write fantastic songs, people, in those liminal minutes. You’ll never hear them, alas).

Another thing my brain will do for me storywise while I sleep is work on plot points — if, just before I go to sleep, I say to my brain, “okay, while I’m sleeping I need you to think about [plot point in question],” my brain will do so as I snooze. I don’t have to say it out loud (although sometimes I do), but I do have to specifically tell my brain to work on it while I sleep. And you know what? If I ask it to, there’s a better than even chance that when I wake up, I have some new options for that plot point. They won’t always be good options, but they’ll still me more (and different) than the ones my conscious brain would have provided. I’m not sure if anyone else does this sort of subconscious problem-solving, but it’s worked for me for a while.

I’ll note that just because I don’t use dreams for story ideas/plotting/etc doesn’t mean other people can’t or don’t, or that I don’t doubt people who say ideas come to them in dreams. If they do, good for them! I’m glad it works that way for them. It doesn’t work that way for me. I tend to think of my dreams more as my brain sorting things that happened during the day, or just playing around when it doesn’t have my conscious self at the wheel.

And I’m fine with this; I like my dreams, by and large. They can do whatever they like. If I’m unhappy with ’em, well. I’ll wake up.

(There is still time to ask a question for Reader Request Week. Go here for all the details, and to ask your question.)

Reader Request Week 2017 #4: Haters and How I Deal With Them

For this one I received a couple of email requests, and I’m going to conflate them into a paraphrased question which goes like this:

Your site motto is “taunting the tauntable,” so why don’t you go after your haters more?

And I’m all, ooooh, so let’s talk about my haters a bit.

My haters generally break down into three categories:

1. A specific, embarrassingly devoted hater and his few dozen fans/sockpuppets;

2. A wodge of right-wing SF/F writers and their fans who got het up during the “Puppies” nonsense;

3. Various alt-right cranks who try to gang up on me on Twitter.

I’ll note there is some overlap between all three categories.

So, to begin, here are some things I know about haters, and how they relate to me:

First, I acknowledge that people are in fact perfectly free to hate and despise me, for whatever various reasons they choose to do so, and there’s very little I can or want to do about that, particularly when the John Scalzi they have in their head (and then assert to others exists in the world) has very little to do with me. People feel how they feel, and some people just don’t like me, and probably never will. Indeed, I could argue that there is a small contingent of people who at this point feel professionally obliged not to like me. And, well. C’est la vie. There are enough people in the world who do like me that I don’t generally feel a lack of positive attention, either personally or professionally.

Second, I recognize that the haters generally have a pretty low impact on my life, professionally or personally. Despite several years of committed hater action against me, including the active attempt to spread lies about my character and the state of my career, I’m one of the best-selling, best-known authors in my genre (and do pretty well overall as a writer), with lots of friends and colleagues, and some enviable professional opportunities. If my haters have been trying to drag me down (more on that in a second), they are delightfully incompetent at it, and have been for a while. I’ll note that this is a result specific to me; other people with other haters may have other, different and more serious problems with theirs.

Third, my time is limited these days — I have books to write, tours and other professional travel to undertake, other projects to develop, and (somewhere in there) friends and family and pets to cherish and spend time with. How much time should I devote to haters? Site motto notwithstanding, these days, the return on investment for me for engaging with haters in more than cursory, snarky fashion is pretty low. It doesn’t especially benefit my career, and while it used to be kind of diverting to poke at haters, these days it’s a low quality experience overall; it’s not as much fun anymore. Maybe I’ve grown up a bit — not a bad thing for someone who is 47 — or maybe the haters have just gotten more stupidly programmatic. Or both! Either way, meh.

Fourth, I’ve come to realize that some people are using hating me primarily as a transactional enterprise; they see some personal business advantage to holding me up as someone to be hated, and doing so allows them to, say, peddle to the gullible and strident wares that they might not otherwise be able to profitably market. To this respect the hating isn’t actually about me — if I didn’t exist, they’d just pick someone else who suited their needs. That being the case, why get worked up about it? Especially if it’s not having any noticeable effect on my own personal or professional fortunes.

Fifth, I look at who it is that is hating on me in a public fashion. In general they tend to be awful people, or people aspiring to be awful people, or (unfortunately) people who aren’t themselves awful but have managed to get themselves used by awful people and would rather double down on I meant to do that than extricate themselves. I’m okay being hated by them.

Sixth, look: Some people are just fucking unhappy. For all sorts of reasons. And that’s on them, but it’s easier to put it on someone else, and hey, why not me? I’m a pretty convenient target.

(There’s a seventh thing here, too: the possibility that somewhere along the way I’ve done something that genuinely merits someone hating me. Honesty compels me to admit this is a possibility. And to those people: I’m sorry I fucked up somewhere along the way, and that in fucking up, I hurt you. If you ever want to talk to me about it, I’ll listen. With that said, I don’t think most people who are getting off on hating at me publicly are in this category. Most of them, I don’t know or have even met.)

So, what to do with the three general categories of haters? In reverse order:

Alt-right cranks on Twitter: Generally employ the Scamperbeasts rule, and otherwise mostly ignore and mute. Life’s too short. Occasionally I’ll condescend to them before I mute them. The good news is that Twitter’s muting functions have improved recently so muting their nonsense is even easier than it was before.

Right-wing SF/F writers and fans: I mean, at this point I think this has generally fizzled out, no? I was a useful synecdoche for everything they thought was wrong in science fiction and fantasy for a couple of years, but the end result of that was… the world of science fiction and fantasy continuing to go on anyway, because at the end of the day publishing, even in science fiction and fantasy, is about what sells, and what sells is me (and a whole bunch of other people, including some of the right-wing writers who were griping about me). I didn’t go anywhere, they didn’t go anywhere, and ultimately I suspect most of the smarter writers and fans who were amped up about me just let it go. Which is fine with me! I wish the writers all the success they can have, and their fans happiness in reading. I’m perfectly happy to let all that go and move on. With that said I’ll still occasionally see someone in this grouping snarking on me. You do you, dudes.

Specific, embarrassingly devoted hater and his pals: I don’t have much time for this dude anymore, and I suspect it really bothers him. Cultivating the idea of a feud between us is a cornerstone of his publishing strategy, and asserting equivalency in our careers is how he tries to convince others he’s important. And while it’s nice every now and again to raise lots of money for charitable causes off his obsession with me, in a general sense I’ve been kind of busy. I pretty much don’t think of him unless he’s jumping up and down to get my attention, or trying to make a buck off my name. It’s a lopsided deal — he needs me, but I don’t need him for anything. My real annoyance at this point is that other folks are unintentionally doing this jerk’s desperately attention-seeking work for him, sending me updates on the latest nonsense he’s saying or doing, involving the version of me he peddles to his pals. If all y’all could resist the temptation, I’d be obliged. I don’t actually care about this dude.

“Don’t actually care” is where I mostly am with my haters these days, in fact, and I acknowledge it’s a nice place to be in. I’m blessed with work I like and people in my life I love, and the time I have now is all the time I’ll ever have. I plan to spend as much of it focusing on the things I like and people I love as I can, and rather little of it on the people who get off on hating me. Go on and hate me, dudes. It’s your karma. I have better things to do with my time.

(There is still time to ask a question for Reader Request Week. Go here for all the details, and to ask your question.)

Spring Has Sprung, 2017

Some pictures from the Scalzi Compound, today, when spring was in bloom.