Off to Boston

Here at the Dayton airport for my first trip, and first convention, of the 2016: Off to Boston for Arisia, where I’m the author Guest of Honor. If you missed it earlier, here’s my schedule when I’m at the convention. If you’re in the Boston area, it’s not too late to get membership and hang out with a bunch of nerd. Come on, it’ll be fun.

Tangentially, today the Oscar nominations have come out. I usually do a writeup of my first pass predictions when that happens, but I’m travelling today so that will be delayed. Look for it either later today or tomorrow.

Duuuuuh Brain

Progress on the new novel has been pretty good — 20k words so far, which is where I want to be prior to being at Arisia, which will trim back my writing speed at bit — but one consequence of this is that when I’m done, and have done some other necessary work for the day (email, etc), when I come to the blog to write something, my brain is all eeeeeeeeeegh yeah no. Whether this is a side effect of getting back to novel writing after a pause, or because I’m getting older and only have so much brainpower per day, or because it’s the dead of winter which makes me feel sleepy at  6pm anyway — or some combination of all three and/or other factors — it’s hard to say. But it has made the blog a little, uh, less sparkly than usual, I suppose. I mean, unless you like kitten pictures, in which case it’s been awesome. And most of you like kitten pictures, so.

Along this same line: I’ll put up the Award recommendation posts next week, so be looking for those then.

In short: Look, here’s Zeus.

In Case You Were Wondering How Close You Can Get to a Sleeping Kitten With a Full-Sized DSL Camera Before She Wakes Up

The answer is:

Pretty close.

The Big Idea: Jake Kerr

Is being the chosen one all it’s cracked up to be? Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t, and in this Big Idea for Tommy Black and the Coat of Invincibility, author Jake Kerr has choice thoughts on being “chosen” and the choices the chosen ones (and their authors) might have.

JAKE KERR:

When you are writing a four book series, there is a lot of room to pursue ideas, both big and small, and in my Tommy Black series I’m taking full advantage of that. There are subtle things like all of the accurate historical elements I weave into the background, the fact that there is really no real bad guy in book one, and the morally complex role of magic. However, my biggest idea has to be that I’m doing my best to destroy the traditional “chosen one” coming-of-age genre trope. The consequences of that lead to a lot of interesting and fun things.

We’re all familiar with the chosen one—Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and a wide range of heroes going back to the roots of the genre—the young boy who is given a special power or responsibility, and it his his destiny to use it for good. At the beginning of Tommy Black and the Staff of Light, that’s exactly what happens—Tommy is given his grandfather’s magical staff, told that it is his family’s legacy and that he must somehow learn its power to follow in his famous grandfather’s footsteps.

In the process of going down that path, however, Tommy is confronted with several aspects of his legacy that he finds wrong and unacceptable. He decides to re-define it into him working against much of what his family had done in the past. He still has powerful magic, and he is still the chosen one. He has just decided to abandon the legacy part.

That’s all well and good and not entirely groundbreaking, but the events in book two, Tommy Black and the Coat of Invincibility, lead Tommy down a challenging new path—his power starts to become unstable with the unearthing of other magical artifacts and other “chosen ones” wielding them. The result is that his role as hero changes, as do the roles of his friends.

This was actually quite challenging to write. We want our heroes to be heroes, and when they are confronted with challenges, it is disappointing to have someone else save them. Creating a narrative where Tommy fails and yet isn’t a failure made me reconsider how I approach conflict within a novel. For example: Could I take away Tommy’s powers and still give him a chance to shine? How would I do that?

One strategy for dealing with that is to have another character that everyone is rooting for. Luckily for me, I have Naomi. She is Tommy Black’s best friend, and, like Hermione Granger, she is a hard-working and astonishingly skilled magician. Unlike Hermione, however, Naomi is all forward momentum, and as Tommy struggles with the unreliability of his powers, Naomi jumps in and saves the day on a number of occasions.

Cover artist M.S. Corley handled this dynamic perfectly. We have ominous Nazi magicians arrayed against Tommy and Naomi, but the one in front is Naomi. (Corley’s a master, by the way. I highly recommend you check out his work here.)

One of the recurring comments I’ve heard from young readers of Tommy Black and the Staff of Light has been, “I want to see more of Naomi” or “Please have Naomi do more with her magic.” It was as if there was this untapped desire by readers to give the sidekick or the young girl a turn in the spotlight. And that’s exactly what I’ve done.

In my case, it is by design, and Naomi is the perfect character to fill that role. She loves magic so much and works so hard at it that she trusts it implicitly. As a result, she barrels ahead with utter faith in her abilities, overwhelming warships at sea, German army units with guns and mortars, and an elite squad of Nazi magicians. Of course that confidence is also a flaw, and that’s part of the fun—watching how the changing power dynamic between Tommy and Naomi is grounded in a foundation of mutual support and friendship. They help each other with their weaknesses.

As the series progresses, that’s really the big idea I am excited about pursuing—Tommy the Chosen One struggling with the knowledge that his true path may be to go back to being the normal boy he was when he started, and the girl whose life he saved growing into the role she has built for herself: a young woman with great power taking over as the true savior of the world. In fact, the fourth book of the Tommy Black series won’t have his name on the cover. It will have Naomi’s.

By the way, “big idea” sounds kind of deep and philosophical. That’s not bad, of course, but don’t forget that this is a fantasy action/adventure series set during World War 2. I have Nazi magicians for goodness’ sake. I want the Tommy Black books to be just as fun as the Edgar Rice Burroughs and J. R. R. Tolkien books I read when I was twelve. If readers don’t walk away with a smile on their face, I’ve failed.

With that in mind, here is an excerpt from chapter twelve, where we see the above big idea happening, while the scene itself is exciting and fun.

In the end, I want Tommy to be a hero that readers cheer and root for, but not because he was chosen or because he received some magical legacy. I want him to be a hero because he’s a good person. And I want Naomi to be cheered as a hero, too, because she works harder than everyone else, and it has made her truly amazing.

—-

Tommy Black and the Staff of Light/Tommy Black and the Coat of Invincibility: Amazon |Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s|Kobo|Google|Apple|

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s page. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

My Arisia Schedule

My first science fiction convention of the year is this weekend: Arisia, at which I am the author Guest of Honor. Wheee! Here are the panels I’ll be on and the events I’ll be doing.

Friday: 

8:30pm: The Future of Mars – Literature, Panel – 1hr 15min – Faneuil (3W)

We grew up reading about Barsoom and the Mars of Wells and Bradbury. Today, we’re finally exploring the reality of the red planet. Where does our fictional treatment of Mars go from here? Do we concentrate on the real possibilities opening up? Or are there exciting and odd treatments we can imagine?

Panelists: Ken Schneyer (m), Morgan Crooks, Jeff Hecht, Nalin Ratnayake, John Scalzi

 

Saturday:

1:00pm: Cinematic Writing and SF/F – Literature, Panel – 1hr 15min – Burroughs (3E)

SF/F literature gets a lot of its fans from other media, especially visual media like TV and film. How has it affected the writing of spec fic? Can writing be truly cinematic? What does cinematic literature look like? What techniques in SF/F point back toward more visual techniques in other media?

Panelists: James Macdonald (m), Marlin May, John Scalzi, Sarah Smith, Ian Randal Strock

4:00pm: John Scalzi Reading – GOH, Reading – 1hr 15min – Grand CD (1W)

Our Author Guest of Honor reads from one of his selected works and may take questions from the audience.

Panelist: John Scalzi

5:30pm: Cultural Assumptions in SF/F – Literature, Panel – 1hr 15min – Burroughs (3E)

Recent novels such as The Three Body Problem, The Grace of Kings, and Throne of the Crescent Moon join other works that challenge the cultural assumptions behind mainstream (American and English) science fiction and fantasy. How are these genres being reimagined beyond just making the space cowboys swear in Mandarin?

Panelists: John Chu (m), Max Gladstone, Crystal Huff, Kiini Ibura Salaam, John Scalzi

 

Sunday:

1:00pm: Addressing Sexual Harassment in Our Communities – Communities, Panel – 1hr 15min – Marina 1 (2E)

Harassment and safety at conventions is not a new topic, but it has been very much in the spotlight for the past couple of years. Many conventions, including Arisia, are taking steps to prioritize safety. What are the best ways to make convention attendees safer? Should we be looking at convention polices and enforcement, reporting procedures, or social change on what fans tolerate as acceptable behavior? How do our current strategies work, how could they work better, and who is doing it well?

Panelists: Kris “Nchanter” Snyder (m), Inanna Arthen, Jet Levy, John Scalzi, Isabel Schechter, Hannah Simpson

4:00pm: John Scalzi Book Signing – GOH, Signing – 1hr 15min – Grand Prefunction (1W)

Come get your book or other (reasonable) John Scalzi related paraphernalia signed by our Author Guest of Honor!

Panelist: John Scalzi

 

Monday:

11:30am: Humor in Writing – Writing, Panel – 1hr 15min – Burroughs (3E)

As the saying goes, “Dying is easy, comedy is hard.” Why is writing humor so difficult? How much is too much or too little? How are different styles of humor conveyed through the writing?

Panelists: Daniel M Kimmel (m), Diane Kenealy, John Scalzi

 

The complete schedule of events (everyone’s, not just mine) is here.

So that’s my official schedule. I’ll also be popping into various other things while at the convention, and of course just hanging about chatting with people. Do come by and say hello if you see me. And also, of course, if you’re in or near the Boston area and have nothing planned for your weekend, well, here’s something you can do.

See you there!

Well, Look Who Just Showed Up For Work

Oh, hello, Winter. Nice you could make it. And only —

(glances at watch)

— three weeks late! Huh.

What? Something something El Nino something? Sure. Whatever. Look, if you won’t want the job, both Autumn and Spring are more than happy to pick up some extra shifts. They’re good workers. Happy to be here. You just let me know and I’ll go ahead and pencil them in.

No? Well, then. Maybe you’ll show up on time from now on. Okay? Good. Now get to work on the back. I can still see some green out there.

The Scamperbeasts on Twitter

Someone last night made a jokey comment on Twitter about the Scamperbeasts having their own account on that service, which served as a reminder to me that I should probably get on that before someone else did (someone else made a Twitter account for Ghlaghghee, after all).

So I did, and as of this morning it has almost three thousand followers, which is amazing and also pretty ridiculous. Be that as it may, I do intend to keep the Scamperbeast twitter feed active with pictures of Sugar and Spice (with likely cameo appearances by other members of the Scalzi household), so if you’re on Twitter and a fan of the Scamperbeasts, well, you know what to do.

Also done last night: Scamperbeasts.com. Which was not taken already, which was vaguely surprising to me. I honestly did not think I had thought up the term “scamperbeasts,” but a Google search on the term turns up nothing but references to my kittens, either by me or others, so: Hey, look! I mades up a new word! Uh, maybe. And if I didn’t make it up, I own the first 10 pages of Google listings about it, so it’s pretty much the same from the point of view of the Internet.

I Had Such Ambitions For This Week On Whatever But Instead I Used My Brain To Write 12,000 Words on the New Novel, So, Look, Here Are the Scamperbeasts

Seriously, I had several topics I was planning to write on! But then there was the novel, and business emails, and that award thingie, and yesterday I was running errands, so, really, poof, where does the time go. At least the Scamperbeasts are still cute as hell.

Maybe I’ll write some stuff here on the weekend. You never know! Until then: Hey, kittens.

I’m One of the Recipients of the 2016 Governors Awards for the Arts in Ohio

Which is a nice thing to be able to announce after a morning of writing on a novel.

The official announcement is here, and I’m cutting and pasting it below for those of you who don’t want to link through, and adding with some personal comments.

Now, the announcement:

 

WINNERS ANNOUNCED FOR 2016 GOVERNORS AWARDS FOR THE ARTS IN OHIO

Columbus, Ohio: Nine winners have been selected to receive awards at the 2016 Governors Awards for the Arts in Ohio on Wednesday, May 18, 2016. The 2016 award recipients and categories, including city and county, are:

Arts Administration: Gary Hanson, executive director, The Cleveland Orchestra Cleveland (Cuyahoga)

Arts Education: Joe Deer, professor, Wright State University Dayton (Montgomery)

Arts Patron: George Barrett, chairman/CEO, Cardinal Health Dublin (Franklin)

Business Support of the Arts (small): First-Knox National Bank Mount Vernon (Knox)

Business Support of the Arts (large): Premier Health Dayton (Montgomery)

Community Development & Participation: Harmony Project Columbus (Franklin)

Individual Artist (two winners):
Janice Lessman-Moss, professor of textile arts, Kent State University Kent (Portage);
John Scalzi, author Bradford (Darke)

Irma Lazarus Award: James Conlon, music director, Cincinnati May Festival Cincinnati (Hamilton)

The Governor’s Awards Selection Committee, comprised of four Ohio Arts Council (OAC) board members and three members selected by the Ohio Citizens for the Arts (OCA) Foundation, recommended winners after reviewing 88 nominations submitted by individuals and organizations from across Ohio.

Award Ceremony and Luncheon | Wednesday, May 18

The award ceremony will take place during a luncheon Wednesday, May 18, at noon at the Columbus Athenaeum in downtown Columbus. Winners will receive an original work of art by photographer and visual artist Paula Kraus of Dayton, Ohio. The Ohio Arts Council and the Ohio Citizens for the Arts Foundation host the luncheon to honor this years winners and acknowledge continued support by Ohios elected officials. The Governors Awards luncheon is held in conjunction with Arts Day, a daylong arts advocacy event sponsored by Ohio Citizens for the Arts Foundation.

About the Ohio Arts Council
The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Find us onFacebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit the OAC website at oac.ohio.gov

About the Ohio Citizens for the Arts/Foundation
Through the efforts of thousands of individuals and arts and education organizations, Ohio Citizens for the Arts advocates on behalf of arts and culture, and funding for the same, through the Ohio Arts Council. The Ohio Citizens for the Arts Foundation formed in 1990 as a companion organization, leverages additional support for the arts and arts education.

—-

And now, my thoughts:

Wheeee! This is pretty exciting. This is a definitely-not-trivial award in the state of Ohio, and to be entirely honest, when I was told that some folks here in the Dayton area wanted to nominate me for it, I wasn’t expecting much. To have it awarded to me is an actual and genuine thrill.

Also, and I’m not entirely sure about this so someone else will have to double-check, but: I do believe this is the first time that a science fiction writer has won this particular award. If that’s correct that makes this award doubly exciting for me. I’m delighted to see my particular brand of literature get recognition, and happy to be an ambassador of it here in Ohio, along with other writers of the genre here in the state, including Tobias Buckell, Kameron Hurley and Mike Resnick among so many others. It’s fun to think the future is starting off in Ohio.

(“But Scalzi,” I hear you say. “Didn’t you swear off awards for this year?” Indeed I did, for awards where the nomination was for work I did in 2015. This is something of a career award, encompassing my entire time as published science fiction author, which as it happens is contiguous with my time in Ohio, as moved here in 2001, and had Old Man’s War, my debut novel, published in 2005. It’s a slightly different animal, then, and I’m happy to accept it.)

I’ll undoubtedly have more to say about this as time goes on, but for right I’ll just say thank you to the Ohio Arts Council and congratulations to the other recipients, particularly Janice Lessman-Moss, the co-winner of the individual artist category. I look forward to seeing all of them in May.

How to Manifest a Kitten

For when you absolutely, positively need a kitten to magically appear instantly. This is an incomplete list.

1. Close an interior door.

2. Open an exterior door.

3. Use the toilet.

4. Run a bath.

5. Type on a keyboard.

6. Clean the catbox. (They will immediately poo in it)

7. Feed the dog.

8. Feed the other cat.

9. Feed yourself.

10. Click the button that activates the laser pointer.

11. Try to take a nap.

12. Have the adult cat try to take a nap.

13. Indeed, have the adult cat try to do anything, because the kittens are convinced that the adult cat really just wants to play with them every waking hour of the day, which I assure you, is an opinion at wide variance to adult cat’s own.

14. Leave your toes unattended.

And of course,

15. Tuna.

Scribble Scribble Scribble

So, I started a new novel on Monday and so far, so good; the writing is coming along nicely and it’ll be nice to keep it coming at this clip. For me, the major problem is not writer’s block or plot issues or anything structural involving the novel; I generally don’t have problems with those once I start, and with this new novel, thankfully, I didn’t have any real issues starting.

No, the problem is that the Internet is an attractive nuisance. And not just in the sense of that it distracts me when I need to be writing. No, as I get older, I find that actually plugging into it before I do any novel writing scrambles my brain enough to make it hard to get any appreciable progress made for the day. I think this is a combination of me getting older and the Internet just plain doing a better job of angrying up the blood or otherwise distracting me. I also think it also has to do with a certain amount of habituation, i.e., if I’m checking email, by brain just goes “Oh, we’re on the Internet now,” and just fires up those parts of my brain that work on the Internet. These do not, by and large, correspond to the novel writing parts of my brain.

How to deal with this? Well, I’ve made a new rule, which really isn’t a new rule, but kind of an update rule. And the rule is: before 2,000 words or noon, whichever comes first, no Internet at all. No blog, no Twitter, no Facebook, no email, no checking the news. When I sit down at the computer (usually around 8am), I disconnect it from the network. I leave the cell phone in the other room (and unless you’re my wife, daughter, editor or agent, if you call the landline, it’s not going to get picked up, either). No Internet. At all.

Now, this is similar to the rule I had before, which was no Internet while I was writing. The change is that previously when I woke up, I’d check email and Twitter and what have you, or before I started writing on the novel I might put up a blog post or a Big Idea piece. And I’ve found I can’t really do that anymore — off my brain will go, into a non-novel-writing mode. So: No Internet. At all.

And, well. So far, it’s working swell. The words are flowing, the plot is bubbling along, the characters are quipping and so and so forth, and when I get to about the 2k mark (or noon, whichever comes first), I pack it in for the day and do other things. The side effect, at least so far, is then I slide right into the other tasks pretty happily and efficiently, knowing that the thing I really have to do, i.e., writing on the novels, is already done for the day and not hanging over my head.

That said, I don’t want to get too excited, as it’s two days in to this particular novel writing session. There’s still lots of time to me to screw up my groove. But on the other hand, the more you do something, the easier it gets to do it. Also, and unsurprisingly, the Internet seems to get along just fine without me when I’m not there, which is a thing my feeder-bar subconscious wants to deny. Surprise! I’m just not a big deal on the Internet! Well, I’ll get over that one day, I suppose.

In any event: Hey, I’m writing a novel. Again. Let’s see how this one goes.

The Big Idea: Eric James Stone

Welcome to the first Big Idea of 2016! And while the title of Eric James Stone’s novel promises that it will be Unforgettable, Stone asks an opposing question: If you wanted to make a character who was destined to be forgotten, how would you do it, science fictionally speaking?

ERIC JAMES STONE:

When I came up with the idea of a hero who couldn’t be remembered after he was gone, I needed an explanation for what caused that effect.

I’ve had several stories published in Analog Science Fiction & Fact, a market that offers mainly hard science fiction, so I can come up with scientifically rigorous explanations for various story elements. But Unforgettable was not intended to be hard science fiction — it was really more of a superhero novel, albeit with a rather weird superpower.

I toyed with a biological explanation involving pheromones, but eventually decided to use quantum physics.  I’ve always been fascinated by some of the weirder aspects of quantum mechanics, like superposition and wave function collapse. My wife is a high school physics teacher. Before we met for our first date, I told her she would recognize me because I would be wearing a tee-shirt with a physics joke on it. She said, “OK, but if it isn’t funny, I’m leaving.” The tee-shirt showed a wanted poster with a picture of a cat, and it read “Wanted: Dead & Alive — Schrödinger’s Cat.” (Fortunately, she found that funny enough that she didn’t leave.)

I figure most readers of this blog are familiar with the Schrödinger’s Cat thought experiment (or are capable of looking it up on Wikipedia), so I won’t detail it here. Suffice to say that before the experimenter opens the box, the cat exists in a superposition of aliveness and deadness. After the experimenter opens the box, the probability wave function collapses, and the experimenter sees either a dead cat or a live (and probably very annoyed) cat.

However — and this is where we go beyond the original thought experiment — outside the lab is the experimenter’s colleague. From the colleague’s point of view, the cat’s aliveness is still in superposition, but the experimenter’s mind could also be said to exist in a superposition of two possibilities: having seen a dead cat and having seen a live cat.

All of that is still within the realm of current theoretical physics. But to provide a theoretical basis for my hero’s superpower, I needed to take it one step further. I wondered, what if there were some sort of glitch, and the wave function for the experimenter’s mind collapsed to the version where the cat is dead, while the wave function for the cat itself collapsed to the version where the cat is alive?

Nat Morgan, the hero of my novel Unforgettable, is the personification of such a glitch: he exists in a superposition of being there and not being there, and once he’s gone the wave functions of the minds of everyone he’s met always collapse to the version in which he wasn’t there.

Once I had my theoretical explanation in place, I proceeded to work out the implications of Nat’s superpower. Figuring out the rules for what happened when he interacted with people helped me to develop scenes that showcased the rules, so the reader would come to understand them.

—-

Unforgettable: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

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

New Books and ARCs, 1/4/16

A new year and a new stack of books and ARCs that have come to the Scalzi Compound, including several novellas — the hot new format. What here looks good to you? Tell me in the comments.

The 2016 Awards Consideration Post

As is my annual tradition, here’s what I have in terms of work I produced in 2015, for you to consider for science fiction and fantasy awards here in 2016:

Nothing. 

Which is not to say I didn’t produce work in 2015. There’s a novel (The End of All Things) which was made out of four novellas (“The Life of the Mind,” “This Hollow Union,” “Can Long Endure” and “To Stand or Fall”) and I also wrote a graphic novel (Midnight Rises) and helped write and create a video game (Midnight Star). And it’s all really good stuff, if I do say so myself.

However, as I noted last year, this year I feel like taking a year off of the awards race and cheering on other people rather than competing for the awards spotlight. There will be other years to contest in and other work of mine to champion for consideration. In the meantime, 2015 was full of work I loved that other people made, and, independently, is well worth thinking about for awards. I picked a good year to take off and just enjoy other people’s stuff.

Again, to be clear: Please do not nominate the work I produced in 2015 for awards. If my 2015 work is nominated or becomes a finalist for an award, to the extent I am allowed to decline nominations/finalist status, I intend to do so. Please pick other work and people to consider.

What I do want to say to folks is that if you actually have the ability to nominate work for awards, then you really should do that, in as many categories as you have favorite work and people in. There are people who have made it their mission to troll the awards, and the way the trolls succeed (at least in the nominating stages) is to have relatively few other people nominate.

So your mission this year, should you choose to accept it — and you should — is to nominate a whole lot of things you love, and to learn about the categories you don’t usually nominate in, so you can make an informed, personal choice in those categories. And thus will the trolls be banished to the underneath of bridges, to mutter to themselves.

In the next couple of days I’ll put up a post for people to promote their own work, and another for fans to promote their favorite stuff as well, so hopefully that will help get people thinking of new stuff to consider.

So, thanks for reading the stuff I put out in 2015! Please don’t nominate it. Nominate other work instead. Thanks.

And Thus Do the Holidays End, As Ever They Do, With the Ritual Decapitation of a Snowman

What? You don’t end your holidays this way? Huh.

Krissy is in fact mildly annoyed with this, as this is in fact her favorite seasonal snow man decoration. But it’s not too badly broken, I think. Nothing that can’t fixed with love, and a little glue. Mostly glue, I think.

But yes, Krissy is putting away the Christmas decorations today. Welcome to January.

2016 Plans, Appearances, Resolutions, Etc

A quick update on the things I’ve got planned for the next year:

Work: I have a young adult novel I need to write, and an adult novel I need to write. So, uh, that’s two novels (as I have mentioned previously). That’s one more novel than I usually write in any given year, so that’s officially My Writing Challenge for 2016. You will get to watch me as I descend into writing madness! Bwa ha ha ha ha hah ha!

Seriously, though, I think it will be fine. One, these novels are pretty well baked, pre-writing, which is to say in both cases I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do and where the big story beats are. Which means at this point getting the books written will be the quotidian task of punching out a sufficient number of words on a daily basis. Which means, to use less fancy words than “quotidian,” putting my ass in a chair and typing.

Two novels in one year is enough work for me to undertake, in my opinion (if you can or want to write more novels in a year, that’s nice for you, but this isn’t a competition, friend), so I feel that if that was all I did in my year, work-wise, I could be excused for the rest of the year. As it happens, however, I do have some other things I want to try to stuff into the year as well. These include a few short stories; these are a near certainty to get done.

There are a few other possible things on my plate as well, but those fall under “secret projects” at the moment, so you’ll find out about them if they happen, and if they don’t, well. They’ll go to that sad place that all the other secret projects that didn’t pan out go to, and this brief mention here is all you’ll ever know of them.

It’ll be a busy year no matter what, is what I’m saying. The good news for you is that it means 2017 and after will have lots of ScalziProduct™ for you to consume.

Appearances: This year I currently have no book tour scheduled, on account that I don’t have a new novel coming out in 2016, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have a chance to see me: as of this moment, I’m scheduled for appearances in Boston, Detroit, Dallas, Los Angeles, Columbus, Portland, Kansas City and Hawaii. I’ll also be on the JoCo Cruise once again. Here are the details on each of those.

I have a few other possible public events in the works as well and if they pan out I will make note of them and update the Scheduled Appearances page as well. I may also have announcements on how I manage my upcoming appearances and invitations soon. Stay tuned for details on that.

Resolutions: The two public resolutions I have for the year are: Focus more on important things and less on unimportant things, and try to see more of friends and loved ones in 2016. Not especially blockbuster resolutions, to be sure, but ones that if I manage to keep will improve my quality of life. Which, I think, is what new year’s resolutions are meant to do in any event.

And thus: Plans for 2016. Let’s see what happens to them when they meet reality.

2016 is Here

May the new year be filled with joy and delight and happiness, and with great blessings for those you love, and who love you.

2015 and Me

Surely the recitation of the facts of 2015 indicate it was a very good year for me. I released my first video game and graphic novel, both of which did pretty well; my novel The End of All Things was released and went into various best seller lists; my previous novel Lock In was a finalist for awards including the Locus and Campbell and won an Alex Award from the American Library Association (for adult books that are good reads for teenagers); I wrote a novel and a novella and a short story and toured the United States and Australia; I celebrated my 20th anniversary with my wife in London; and had lunch with Tom Hanks, you know, like you do.

Oh, and I got a book contract. So I have that going for me, which is nice.

What the recitation of facts misses is that in a great many ways, 2015 is the year that I stopped worrying about a whole lot of things. I could go into detail about this, but suffice to say that this is the year I recognized that so many of the things people worry about, in terms of their lives and careers and relationships and their place in the world, are things for me which are, for lack of a better term, settled issues.

To put it another way: This year it sunk in that I really did get to be the person I wanted to be when I grew up, and got the life I hoped to have, and in both cases that fact is even more fulfilling to me than I could have imagined when I was younger. If I were hit by the proverbial bus tomorrow, I couldn’t say my life wasn’t wonderful, with wonderful people in it, or that I didn’t do what I had wanted to do with it.

This does not mean that life can’t take its turns in the future; it doesn’t mean I won’t have failures and disappointments and annoyances; I have not ascended to some zen plane of perfect equanimity. Just last night I was irritated as hell that I bought a Blu-Ray at the store and then left it in the shopping cart in the store parking lot. I am still me; I am not anywhere close to perfect and I suspect I would rapidly become bored if I were. I continue to be a work in progress.

What I mean, simply, is that I am mindful of my circumstance, and that mindfulness allows me to choose not to worry much about certain things any more. I was going to say that this was the gift that 2015 gave me, but as I was typing it I realized it wasn’t actually a gift; it’s something that I built for myself — along with, to be clear, my wife and my child, and with a great deal of help from many other people. I’ve been building this edifice for a while, and this was the year it was habitable and I decided to live in it.

Another thing about 2015 is that in a very real way I think of it, with regard to my career, as a pivot point. I mark the start of my professional writing career as 1990; that was the year I began freelancing concert reviews and features for the Sun-Times newspaper and New City magazine in Chicago, and paid for my food and rent with what I earned. 2015, then, marked a quarter century of me writing for a living, and during that quarter century I learned how to write a lot of things, and I had a lot of fun, and I built a career that has gotten me to this place in life.

That contract I made with Tor this year represents many things, and I certainly understand why people have talked about it and what it means (I mean, come on. We wanted you talk about it. You knew that, right?). I’ve talked before about what it means to me, and to that I’ll note another thing: To me, it represents a foundation for the next 25 (or so) years of my career. I am after all in a different place with and in that career than I was 25 or 10 or even five years ago. I have different interests and opportunities and concerns now than I had then, and my contract with Tor, and all the books and writing and imagination it represents and requires, is what my career will build on from here.

And just what will happen from here? Man, you got me. I have no idea, other than, hey, I have some books to write. But here’s the thing: If all it means is I get those books to write, how cool is that? Thirteen new books and a bunch of new stories, characters and situations I haven’t even begun to think of yet, coming out of my brain into a computer and then onto a page which goes into a book. And then someone gets the book and opens it and what was in my brain is now in theirs. That’s nifty.

And it’ll happen, and will begin, because of what happened for me in 2015. It was a watershed year for me. A career year. Don’t think I don’t know it.