Got a fair amount of books and ARCs this week. What looks good to you? Let me know in the comments!
Got a fair amount of books and ARCs this week. What looks good to you? Let me know in the comments!
Things I need to do before I start my book tour next Tuesday (in no particular order):
1. Get a haircut
2. Finalize my reading selections (currently: A deleted chapter from Lock In, a sneak preview of the upcoming sequel to The Human Division, and… see, this is why I have to finalize selections).
3. Finish up a couple more promotional pieces/interviews
4. Go shopping for travel-related items
5. Sleep as much as humanly possible
6. Decide whether or not to keep the beard or go out on tour clean-shaven
7. Finalize tour commitments
8. Make plans to see friends and such at various stops
10. Something I’m no doubt forgetting at the moment which I will remember at the last minute, or not, in which case I’ll be on my way to Houston when I loudly proclaim, “oh, fuck,” on the plane, causing the incognito US Marshall to take me down with a taser, followed by an emergency landing in, oh, let’s say, Omaha.
Things you need to do before I start my book tour next Tuesday (in no particular order):
1. Find out which tour stop of mine is closest to you
2. Procure a large van and shove every person you have ever met into it
3. Drive them all to the tour stop of mine that is closest to you
4. Enjoy me be a performing monkey for you
5. Get a copy of Lock In or another one of my books for me to sign
6. Have me sign it for you and share a very special 30 seconds with me and also a picture and possibly a soda
7. Drive yourself and everyone you know back home in the procured van, stuffed with happy memories and signed books and maybe some Taco Bell because you all got snacky
8. Return the van, remembering to wipe away any fingerprints
9. Act surprised the next day when your neighbor rants about the damn kids who stole his van and returned it smelling like chalupas and Baja Blast Mountain Dew
10. Floss. Because that’s just always a good idea.
Let’s get these things done, people!
In case you’re wondering what other science fiction and fantasy books are coming out on the same day as Lock In, here’s a fair (but by no means complete) sampling of the day’s releases:
Again, this is not a complete listing — there’s also a bunch of paranormal romance and urban fantasy that shares the same book birthday, plus lots of smaller press and self published SF/F that will arrive in the world next week.
The point is: For every one of these authors, next Tuesday is a nerve-wracking day, not only because their book is out in the world, but because they know so many others are fresh out in the world, too, waiting for readers (and buyers). It’s a miracle we’re not all puddles of neurotic goo.
Now, certainly I want you to buy Lock In starting next Tuesday, if you’ve not already pre-ordered it. I want it to be successful, hit the best-seller lists, get optioned in Hollywood, and become a non-stop marketing monster to the point where there are such things as Lock In chewable vitamins. I mean, I’m not gonna lie about that. But I also hope that next Tuesday your book buying menu also includes another book or two, not neglecting the examples above. The best possible way to support the authors you like is to buy their books. It’s pretty simple, actually. And this August 26, at least, you have some pretty great choices for your bookreading dollar. Happy reading.
First, yes, that’s supposed to be me with an old-timey mustache. That’s one hipster moment I’ll never have to have now!
Second, over at Google Play, I’m playing Two Truths and a Lie, in which I, on video, tell two stories that are true and one that is a lie, and you have to decide which is which. And while you’re there you might note all of my ebook backlist is 50% off at the moment. So, you know. Pig out.
(Also if you scroll down to the bottom of the linked page you’ll discover the answer, as to which one is the lie. It might surprise you! Or if you’ve been an obsessive reader of this site since the early days, possibly not.)
This is the end! Or at least, for Kat Richardson, her new novel Revenant represents the end of a certain part of her writing career. What is it, and how did she know it was time to turn off the light? She’s here to tell you.
Endings. Ah, now, that’s the tricky bit. You build to an ending—the proper ending—that reflects and is indelibly linked to the beginning. And in the course of a long series all the little endings lead, through inevitable change, to the great, big, lollapalooza in the final book—plus some explosions, some gore, sex, death, and general mayhem, of course. And that was were the Big Idea for Revenant came in—because it’s not just a book; it’s The Last Book.
As a writer, you design the whole story for the ending. It doesn’t “just happen.” It’s engineered. Anyone who says otherwise is lying, cheating, or lucky. “I don’t know how it ends,” is not a luxury in which writers can long indulge. Oh, you can get away with it a bit at first, when you’re doing something new and exciting and your instinct is dragging you through the brush and wildfire like rider tied to a mad horse. But eventually—especially with a long-running series—you have to have a destination you mean to reach and go there. It’s not just a road trip through the writer’s imagination—it’s a journey to a specific point in that landscape. No matter how awful, or difficult, or heartbreakingly beautiful, that’s where you’ll take your readers, because you have to and in setting up your series, you promised them that you would.
And so I came to the end that is the beginning, because the word revenant means “that which returns.” The book Revenant came out August 5th and it’s the last novel in the Greywalker series—at least it’s the last for now. Not because the publisher didn’t want more—they did. Not because the sales sucked—they were all right, if not exactly stellar. Not because I was bored or had no ideas left. It’s the end because I’m done. I finished what I started and I took the characters where I wanted to take them.
Essentially the Greywalker saga (as some folks took to calling it) is one long, nine-part novel and, like any story, it has an end that was engineered and intended. That’s where the Big Idea lies—in what I intended and what I hope I accomplished—not in the details of the very last confrontation of the very last book. What I meant to do was to bring the last book back to the beginning and illuminate the main character’s change over the course of the longer arc. Well, and tell a creepy adventure story as well, of course.
When I started, the protagonist, Harper Blaine, was a chilly, stubborn, inflexible loner. She was smart and driven, but she had issues, few friends, and her charm was reserved for getting people to answer her questions. She had what she thought she wanted in life: control. But then someone bashed in her head and that control was taken away from her. Everything she thought she had and was—everything she’d built for herself, by herself—was upended. Over the course of the series, she’s had to figure out a lot—who she is, what’s important enough to fight for, what she’s willing to do, and what she wants to become in spite of what others try to force her into. She’s had to endure a lot: death, disillusion, despair, the loss of friends and lovers, and revelations she didn’t want to have. She’s also had to learn to be a whole person who understands friendship and love and pain rather than avoiding them. Within the larger arc there are three smaller arcs about reclaiming herself, learning to trust others, and finally, forging family links and friendships of her own.
There were also, y’know, ghosts and witches and monsters and mages, kidnapped children, dead wives, devastating earthquakes, world-threatening plots, and a particular vampire who’d been lurking about since the beginning and needed a little fixing, too. Plus a lot of loose ends, lost friends, and family problems that needed to be tied off or cleaned up, not to mention the matter of undead spies that may have started everything….
So I packed the whole kit and caboodle off to Lisbon so I could talk about family and friends and life and death, contrasting one character’s past with another’s, burning them all down and then forcing them all to build something worthwhile out of the wreckage. If I did it right—and I think I did—you should be able to see the beginning of the story reflected in the end and a protagonist who has come back to exactly the right place at last. In the end, we are at the beginning.
A mini rant on politics and assholes that I just put up on Twitter:
I’ve discovering, particularly in this last year, that the center of gravity of my online presence has shifted away from Whatever entirely and has moved more than a bit toward Twitter. The graph above offers some evidence of that — in the last 28 days, the things I’ve said or retweeted on Twitter have gotten eight million “impressions” (the term meaning “the number of times users saw a tweet on Twitter”). Meanwhile Whatever is on track to get something like six million views for this entire year — down from 2012, the peak year for the site with 8.1 million views recorded by the WordPress stats package (as always, see this caveat about stats here). Likewise, the number of followers I have on Twitter (currently 68k) is higher than the number of unique daily visitors the site gets (the high point number for August: 23.4k).
Breaking down what the stats mean after this point gets complicated — starting with the question of whether a 140-character-or-less tweet can be meaningfully compared with a 500-word-or-more blog post — but no matter how you slice it, it seems pretty clear to me my biggest online audience at this point is on Twitter, not here at the Whatever home base.
How did this happen? I have hypotheses, which include:
1. The relative decline of the blogosphere in a general sense, as blog writing and reading are transplanted for most people by easier-to-use social media like Twitter and Facebook;
2. The UI dynamic of newer social media, which makes it easy to Like/Retweet/Share what people write on them, making for an easier spread of posts;
3. My tendency to put short, funny bits (i.e., sharable) on Twitter that in earlier years might have gone to Whatever, leaving Whatever as the repository for longer, more thinky (i.e., less immediately shareable) bits;
4. My increased travel and work schedule leaving me relatively less time for thinky/funny Whatever posts, but apparently the right amount of time for snarky bits on Twitter;
5. My relative lack of political posts this year, which are traditionally drivers of traffic (why fewer political posts? Because my general feeling this election year has been fuck all these assholes, which doesn’t make for great writing);
6. The various ways of sharing material on Whatever has increased, not all of which show up on the WordPress stats — for example, RSS reader views, which show up in some places in the stats package but not others, and which can be a significant part of readership (40% of the recent “Get Out Your Bingo Card” entry’s readership, for example), but not reflected in the site stats — because, after all, it wasn’t read on the site;
7. I can write a couple dozen tweets a day (or more if I’m exercised) whereas I rarely most more than three entries a day here, so there’s more opportunity to run up numbers on Twitter as opposed to here.
There are other likely hypotheses as well, but this is enough for the conversation at the moment.
For those of you who might be worried that this means I’m about to announce that I’m abandoning Whatever for a full-time residency on Twitter, relax: it’s not gonna happen. One, not everything I want to write online can be encapsulated in 140 characters. Two, I’m a proponent of owning one’s own space online, so when Twitter/Facebook/Google+/Etc inevitably go the way of Friendster and Myspace, I will still have a place to be online, doing my thing. Three, because six million visits here each year isn’t a thing to sneeze at, either. Whatever’s not going anywhere, and neither am I.
But it does mean I’m aware that my online presence is spread out more than it used to be. It also means that I think about the ways the two platforms work for and with each other. I will use Twitter to link back to things I’ve written here, for example; conversely, if I have a particularly interesting set of tweets, I’ll post them here for posterity. I think about how they can complement each other, so that both are useful (and fun!) for me, and for the people who follow me on either, or both.
Speaking of which, now I’m off to Twitter to tell people I’ve posted about this topic here. See? That’s how it works, people.
Authors go into their books with what they intend to put on the page. But there are also the things that they put in there that take them by surprise — and sometimes those things add a new level to the work. Mary Weber talks about one of these things in Storm Siren — and how it got into the book in the first place.
My big idea didn’t start out as big. In fact, I didn’t realize it was even an “idea” until a friend gave me feedback that went something like: “I love your focus on diversity. It’s cool you incorporated other races and special-needs characters into the book. What made you decide to do that?”
“Huh?” I frowned. She clearly didn’t understand. The big idea was supposed to be female empowerment. You know – slave girl with superpowers discovers her worth isn’t in her status or abilities but in who she is? Yeah, that.
Later, as my shaky hands slipped the story into a few more inboxes, the replies came back with more of the same: “Good job on how diverse it is. How’d you come up with that?”
Um… I didn’t. But I should have. I should have considered the importance of diversity in story. Been intentional. Yeah, that.
Now, in my defense, I did purposefully make my main character’s love interest a hot black man instead of a hot white guy. Because HELLO. He’s hot. But did I add the various individuals and special needs into Storm Siren to make a statement? No. Part of me wishes I had, because that sounds so intentionally awesome. But the truth is much simpler. Perhaps humbler.
I live in the real world.
I work with special needs individuals and their families. Some of my own family members have special needs. And those people and families are the most incredible, passionate, and hardworking that I know.
I also live in a California coastal community that’s a virtual mixing pot of cultures and ethnicities and beautiful beliefs. Rarely have I encountered any shade of skin copping an attitude toward another person’s shade of skin. We simply are who we are. People. Trying to get by as a community of college-agers, professors, lawyers, waste-removal truck drivers, plumbers, dentists, artists, photographers, middle-agers, parents, homeless, wealthy, elderly.
So, I’m not sure it’s really a big idea when those faces weave their way into a fictional story and are “represented” in romance or fairytale, or westerns, or, in my case, fantasy. It’s simply that they are in my community, and therefore, the people who influence my life story. I bet they’re the same type of people who influence yours as well – people who empower us.
In looking at it that way, maybe my earlier big idea wasn’t too far off. Because at the core of female empowerment – heck, at the core of human empowerment – is value. No matter what things make us different or the same, we are each valuable because of the very fact that we exist.
And we add value to each other by the fact that we choose to live life together, sharing with each other, caring for each other. We add value by standing up for the rights of anyone who has to fight harder to have her voice heard.
And if you ask me, that right there is what makes us powerful.
Here they are!
1. Next Tuesday, which is the release date of Lock In and also the start of my book tour (I’ll be in Houston that night), I’ll also be doing a Twitter chat with the folks at Apple’s iBook store. You’ll be able to ask questions (indeed, we’ll even be taking some questions in advance) about the book, the tour, life, the universe and everything. I’ll be offering up more details soon, but for now: 4pm Eastern, August 26, you should be near a Twitter client.
2. Over at Tor.com I am doing a two-part Quiz at the End of the Universe, and the first part is up now. There you will discover what I would take to a desert island, if I have a favorite unknown writer, what historical moment I would go back in time to change, and so on. Also, they spotlight William Beckett’s awesome new song for Lock In, so you’ll have that going for you as well.
It’s been my thing over the last few novel releases to commission a song from musicians I admire to accompany the book release. For Lock In, I asked William Beckett if he’d be willing to do the honors, and I was absolutely delighted when he said yes — I’ve been a huge fan of William’s, both for his recent solo work and as the front man for the band The Academy Is.
I was even more delighted when William sent me the first rough mix of the song. I had sent him an ARCs of Lock In and its prequel novella “Unlocked,” so he could immerse himself in the world where a disease called “Haden’s Syndrome” had locked millions of people into their own bodies — alive and awake but immobile — and to discover how we and our culture had changed because of it.
William ran with the idea and turned in a song that could very easily be an anthem from and for those who have Haden’s — a shout out of the darkness, as it were, demanding to be heard. It’s a tremendous song on its own merits, but as a calling card for the novel, it’s simply perfect. I am fantasically honored William created this song for me, and equally honored to share it with you now. I hope you like it and share it around to everyone you know.
And now, for those who are coming into this entry with no prior knowledge or context: Links!
* The song “Lock In” is the theme song to the novel Lock In, by John Scalzi, which will be released on August 26, 2014. You can read the first five chapters of the novel as well as “Unlocked,” a prequel novella to the novel, over at Tor.com. You can also preorder the novel at your favorite local bookstore or online retailer (please do!). IT will also be available in audio through Audible.com. You can also see John Scalzi on his upcoming book tour.
* “Lock In,” the song, is also soon to be available to purchase on all your favorite online retailers. If you like the song, please buy it! William Beckett is a recording artist at Equal Vision Records. His most recent album, which I enthusiastically recommend, is Genuine and Counterfeit. William is currently out on tour, so go see him.
Where? At Tor.com! The audio clips are taken from the first chapter — Amber’s first, then Wil’s (they’re reading sequential bits, not the same bit).
I’ve listened to them. I am sooooo happy with these audio versions, I can’t even tell you. Except, uh, I just did, I guess. Anyway.
Also, remember that for the next four days (through the 22nd) if you pre-order one version of the audio, either by Wil or Amber, you can get the other one as well. Details are here.
In which the game and the graphic novel are discussed. Both are coming. Soon.
Also, I just wanted to show off that particular piece of art above, because it has a clever dialogue ballon by me. Me!
Onward into the 10th grade.
In no particular order (and for reference, the winners are here):
1. I am super-delighted that the Hugo Best Novel Award went to Ancillary Justice. One, because it’s fantastic, but two, because I feel entirely unwarranted pride in Ann Leckie’s career, because I gave her her first professional sale, and was delighted to give Ancillary Justice a blurb for when it came out. I had nothing to do with the book’s success, other than receive the pleasure of letting people know I thought it was great. I’m still super proud of its clean sweep of the major SF/F awards, and of Ann. This is just great.
2. I’m also giggling that Charlie Stross name-checked me and Lou Anders when he won for Equoid; I remember that fateful night in Denver in 2008, when the messy seeds of that story were planted with two words, the two words being “unicorn bukkake.” And now, Charlie’s got a Hugo out of it. That’s just about perfect.
3. Also: Mary Robinette Kowal! Who is one of my favorite people on the planet. Some of you may know that her Hugo-wining novelette was disqualified last year, despite having enough nominations to make the slate, because its first appearance was in audio form. It then appeared in word form, and here we are. I’m thrilled that it got a chance to be considered in another year, although frankly it should have never been disqualified at all. I do believe a proposed rule change would have audio-first stories considered in fiction categories along with print-first stories. I think that’s wise.
4. And generally I am delighted with the slate of winners in other categories as well. I think there was a fair amount of concern that the large increase of Hugo voters this year was going to be evidence of (for lack of a better phrase for them) “single issue” voters — specifically those voting only for Wheel of Time or participating because of the “sad puppy” slate of conservative writers. But the voting tallies suggest that if there were “single issue” voters, they were swamped out by people who did their homework and then voted from there. To which I say: Well done, Loncon 3 voters! You done good.
5. You’ve seen me snark about it, I’m sure, but now that the voting is over, what did I really think of the “sad puppy” slate of nominees championed by Larry Correia and others? What I thought at the beginning, which was: The folks pushing the slate played within the rules, so game on, and the game is to convince people that the work deserves the Hugo. It does not appear the voters were convinced. As a multiple Hugo loser myself, I can say: That’s the breaks, and better luck another year.
With that said, Correia was foolish to put his own personal capital as a successful and best selling novelist into championing Vox Day and his novelette, because Vox Day is a real bigoted shithole of a human being, and his novelette was, to put it charitably, not good (less charitably: It was like Gene Wolfe strained through a thick and rancid cheesecloth of stupid). Doing that changed the argument from something perfectly legitimate, if debatable — that conservative writers are often ignored for or discounted on award ballots because their personal politics generally conflict with those of the award voters — into a different argument entirely, i.e., fuck you, we got an undeserving bigoted shithole on the Hugo ballot, how you like them apples.
Which is a shame. It’s fine for Correia to beclown himself with Day, if such is his joy, and he deserves to reap the fruits of such an association. I suspect, however, there are others whom he championed for his “sad puppy” slate who were less thrilled to find themselves looped in with Day by involuntary association. Likewise, Correia is a good writer and his works are fun to read and easy to enjoy; others he championed are likewise fine writers, and their works deserving of award consideration. He didn’t do his work, or the work of these other writers, any favors by muddling his message with Day’s nonsense.
Now, I understand Correia will be happy to tell you that his Hugo loss doesn’t matter to him, which is fine. I do wonder if he considered how other people that were seen as part of his slate feel the same way, or whether he’d do them or their careers any damage by associating them with a bigoted shithole, or that if he really wanted to make the argument that a particular set of writers are ignored by award voters, that he went about making the argument in just about the worst way possible. Bad strategy, bad tactics, bad result.
6. About the entire Wheel of Time series being nominated, again, fully within the rules, so game on, and I would have been honestly happy for Brandon Sanderson if he’d picked up the Hugo with Robert Jordan. I think people underestimate the skill and talent required to do what Brandon did over the course of three books, which was to satisfy the long-term fans of the series, bring the series to a well-developed end with all the story arcs closed up and and emotions earned, and to keep his own ego as a writer in check as he did it. Think that’s easy? I sure as hell don’t — and as a writer, I couldn’t have done it. If Wheel of Time had won, Brandon would have earned every millimeter of that rocket, and I would have been cheering for him.
Likewise, I was never particularly worried about Wheel of Time voters being “single issue” voters — that is, voting only for Wheel of Time and then blowing off the rest of the ballot. Anecdotally, I know a fair sampling of Wheel of Time readers, and none of them only read Wheel of Time. Having the series on the ballot may have brought in new voters, but it seems like they took their voting seriously. So there you have it.
7. In sum: A very good year for the Hugos; indeed, a vintage year. Congratulations to the winners; congratulations to the nominees; congratulations to the voters. See you next year in Spokane.
Meanwhile, somewhere on the Internet, I suspect there’s a tune going on right now that sounds a little something like this.
As they say, bless their hearts.
The 72nd World Science Fiction Convention, Loncon 3, has announced the 2014 Hugo Award winners. 3587 valid ballots were received and counted in the final ballot.
Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie (Orbit US / Orbit UK)
“Equoid” by Charles Stross (Tor.com, 09-2013)
“The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal (maryrobinettekowal.com/Tor.com, 09-2013)
BEST SHORT STORY
“The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu (Tor.com, 02-2013)
BEST RELATED WORK
“We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative” by Kameron Hurley (A Dribble of Ink)
BEST GRAPHIC STORY
“Time” by Randall Munroe (xkcd)
BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, LONG FORM
Gravity written by Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón, directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Esperanto Filmoj; Heyday Films;Warner Bros.)
BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, SHORT FORM
Game of Thrones “The Rains of Castamere” written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, directed by David Nutter (HBO Entertainment in association with Bighead, Littlehead; Television 360; Startling Television and Generator Productions)
BEST EDITOR, SHORT FORM
BEST EDITOR, LONG FORM
BEST PROFESSIONAL ARTIST
Lightspeed Magazine edited by John Joseph Adams, Rich Horton, and Stefan Rudnicki
A Dribble of Ink edited by Aidan Moher
SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester
BEST FAN WRITER
BEST FAN ARTIST
JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER
Award for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer of 2012 or 2013, sponsored by Dell Magazines (not a Hugo Award).
Congratulations to all the winners!
A pretty clear signal from nature that summer is wrapping up, just in time for Athena to start school tomorrow. The forecast for next week: Rain, every day through to Saturday.
Yup. Summer’s done.
Athena is ever-so-slightly taller than her mother now. It’s a pretty big (or at least tall) moment here at the Scalzi Compound.
I was supposed to be writing in the novel this morning, but in the aftermath of Doug Lathrop passing away I found myself wandering through some of the archives of the alt.society.generation-x newsgroup and getting a little depressed and nostalgiac in a way that I don’t frequently get. I’m not a notably nostalgic person, in part because I don’t feel the best part of my life is in the past, but it definitely hit me this morning, and I had to spend a little bit of time figuring out why.
The closest I can come to it is that asg-x is the one thing in my past that is really in the past. My high school and college, for example, are still there and still have people running through them — they are living entities, and even though my time in them gets increasingly further away in the rearview mirror, I know each new group of people who have the experience of going there has some consanguinity of experience with me. Not exactly my experience, but we’re still connected by the same common thread.
asg-x, on the other hand, is tied into a very specific time — from 1993, when it was created, to about 1999 — during which the USENET was still a common place for people exploring the Internet to find and read and use. USENET’s moment is over; there are people who still use it, but they’re the people who’ve been using it. It’s hard to find now and it’s not bringing in new people. And asg-x, the newsgroup, is definitively dead — there’s nothing new there now but spam posts, either containing dance music lists or political rants.
There’s a finite group of people who experienced what asg-x was, when asg-x was something at all. There’s a finite group of people for whom asg-x was a community, and for whom it was their community, with all the little tics and quirks, positive and negative, that a community has. We’re all that there will ever be, basically. Doug’s passing is a reminder that this small and finite community is in the process of shrinking, inexorably, through the simple passage of time. There’s going to be a point, hopefully several decades from now, when the last person who ever attended a “tingle” will pass from the planet, and then that will be it. The end of the asg-x community.
To be clear, it’s a small thing, and a community that was significant mainly for the people who were in it. But even so, within that community, friendships were made, people fell in love (and some of them even got married and had children), laughs were had, arguments were posited, gatherings planned, memories created and milestones celebrated. It was real and it happened, and now its moment is gone and to a very real extent nothing will ever be quite like it again. There’s no way of getting back there. There’s no there there anymore.
And that’s fine. Some things are finite — well, in the long-term sense of things everything is finite, it’s just some things are finite faster — and asg-x is one of those things. I’m not going to wish it were suddenly 1996 all over again and everyone was back on USENET, with a flood of new newsgroups of their own (although I can just imagine what alt.society.THANKS.OBAMA would look like). I’m all right with asg-x having its time, and that time being over.
But now I understand why people are nostalgic. It’s your brain trying to express a moment, and recognizing that the only people who would ever truly get what you’re trying to express were the ones who were there, and they already know.
Back in the wild and wolly days of the World Wide Web, I hung around on a newsgroup called alt.society.generation-x, where I made a number of online friends, some of whom became real world friends, with whom I kept in contact, sporadically, over the years. One of those was Douglas Lathrop, a fellow writer who very recently sold a novel, not his first written (very few “first” novels are first novels), but the first to be picked up by a publisher.
Not too long ago Doug fell and ended up in the hospital, and in part because of other long-term factors relating to his health, he didn’t recover. He passed away today.
And I’m kicking myself because a couple of weeks ago I was in San Diego, during Comic-Con, and as I was crossing the street, he was crossing the street, too, going the other way. And we were in the middle of a cross walk and there were probably a couple hundred other people and we moved past each other too quickly, and I thought to myself, huh, I’ll have to tell Doug I saw him in the cross walk, and then I walked off to whatever it was I was doing next, which I can’t remember now.
I wish I would have taken that moment in the cross walk to say hello. It was the last time I’ll see my friend in this world. I should have said hello. I didn’t. I’m going to regret that forever now.
Take the time, people. Let your friends know you see them and are glad to see them, even if you’re just passing by in a cross walk. It’s important.