Resolutions and eligibility

Wait, am I eligible for anything this year? I am! Here is the incredibly short list of my award-eligible work:

“Smooth Stones and Empty Bones,” F&SF Jan/Feb 2016. This story was just listed in the Tangent Online Recommended Reading List for 2016.

Also, as this is my first year of being published, I am now eligible to be nominated for the John W. Campbell Award. If you were wondering.

Meanwhile: resolutions!

Continue reading “Resolutions and eligibility”

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The State of the North

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Pumpkin meringue pie for turkey day

Hey so how about that November, huh? Yeah. I’d apologize for my absence on here but I think just about everyone has been taking time to recover. A month and a half ago I thought that our biggest national issue by now would be what they would name the president’s spouse’s Twitter account (FHOTUS? FGOTUS?) Now, there are actual, serious news articles questioning whether Japanese internment camps were really a bad thing. So pardon me if I spent about a month working out the logistics of how to marry my Irish bae and skedaddle. Yes, I know that’s not helpful.

Okay, so I haven’t just been busy with that. I also finished Nanowrimo in a kind of cheaty way by writing 50,000 words over 30 different short stories. None of those stories are currently finished, which is disappointing, but I do like a lot of them so once I get out of this funk, I hope to polish them up.

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The view outside my office.

I also have gotten very busy at the day job, which jumped from part time to full time very suddenly last Thursday when my boss was unexpectedly hospitalized. She’s not coming back and there are several massive projects due by the end of the month and it’s just a little bit crazy.

Oh but here’s something I have been doing: I’m an editor and photographer with A Lonely Riot Magazine, which publishes short, genre-agnostic fiction and poetry once a week. We’ve been publishing since May and there are a lot of good stories up there. We only pay a token amount of $20 per short story and $7 per poem, which is a very small payment, I know. I believe authors should be paid reasonable prices, so I highly recommend you try higher paying markets first. We do accept simultaneous subs. But if you like what we do and you want to be a part of it, please submit!

That’s all from me for now. Time to crawl back into my pillow fort.

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Cruise vlog teaser trailer and bonus post-vacation disaster

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The loudest birds in the Caribbean

My dad picked me up at the airport last night, after my flight home from Ft. Lauderdale and the Writing Excuses Retreat cruise to the eastern Caribbean. “I think a mouse died in the wall while you were gone,” he said offhandedly. “There’s a smell.”

Yes, there was a smell. If you’ve ever had a mouse die in your wall before, or if you’ve ever stumbled across a corpse of any kind, you know what that smell is like. When I stepped into my bedroom, the stench went from disgusting to truly horrific. If it was a dead animal, it was a lot bigger than a mouse. I decided I would sleep elsewhere, so I held my breath and ducked into the room to grab my pajamas. Two steps into the room, my foot squished in the rug.

Oh crap, the cat peed on the rug, I thought to myself. Squish. Wow, the cat peed a lot. Squish. …This isn’t cat pee.

At some point while I was away, the hot

water heater sprung a leak. I don’t know how many gallons of hot water drained through the wall and into my bedroom, but it was enough to completely saturate the rug, the bed, the wall, a pile of old comics, some photo albums, a bottom drawer full of clothes, and god knows what else. I’m not sure yet how much is salvageable, but the wall-to-wall carpet definitely has to go. You do not understand how bad it smells in there. That’s what happens when you add hot water to a hundred square feet of carpeting and then let it sit several days.

Now there’s going to be a mess of insurance adjusters, water heater mechanics and flood recovery people swarming the house in the next three days before I have to race out to western Massachusetts for my brother’s wedding this weekend. Yay for post-vacation surprises!

So: my WXR16 cruise post is going to take a bit longer than expected. I have a lot to talk about and many pictures to show you, but until then all you get is this stupid vlog trailer I made on the plane. Oh god, I laugh so hard every time I watch this. iMovie has the best trailer templates. I was tempted by the Bollywood and Teen Movie themes, but in the end I had to go with Horror.

Embedding isn’t working, so click it to go straight to the Instagram page.

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Enjoy, and I’ll talk to you once things settle down.

WorldCon recap!

iron throne
Long may she reign.

Last Wednesday, I flew to Madison, WI, to meet up with Aimee Ogden so the two of us could undertake the 7 hour drive to Kansas City, MO. That meant I had to get up at 2:45 am for a 5:00 flight out of Boston, so I could get to Madison by 9:30 am, and subsequently get to Kansas City by 5:30 pm, when we had dinner plans.

Despite the tight schedule, Aimee agreed to a quick side trip to the World’s Largest Wooden Nickel, which is in Iowa City, IA, and was worth every minute.

Continue reading “WorldCon recap!”

WorldCon plans

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The Newport to Providence ferry, through a Prisma filter.

In two days I’ll be at my first ever WorldCon. It’s the first SFF con I’ve ever gone to, though not the first con by a long shot. I’ll be traveling with Aimee Ogden, who just sold three short stories last week, like a rock star, and who I totally won’t be killing and eating to absorb her powers.

I went through the WorldCon schedule and ended up choosing 83 things that I was interested in. They issue you a time-turner when you pick up your badge, right? That’s going to be a thing? There’s absolutely no way to choose between How Do Fungi Turn Plants into Zombies and Futuristic Crime Investigations and Earth. We’re Stuck Here! and Pacing the Novel and the Star Trek promenade and Lightning Talks, for example, and all of those are just on Wednesday at 3pm.

Anyway, if you plan to be there, drop me a line! Perhaps we’ll cross paths at some point. Watch this space in a week for a post-con recap and, if I get around to it, perhaps even a travel vlog.

Cold Turkey Writer

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Scene from a recent trip to Newport, RI.

Here’s a thing you must do right now if you are easily distracted like me and can’t focus on writing:

Go to Cold Turkey Writer and download the app. It’s free, unless you like it enough that you want the pro version. What it does is, when you open the app, it opens to full screen, and you cannot quit or minimize it until you reach your wordcount/time limit. And that’s literally it. Either you write, or you don’t access your computer.

In the past I used apps like Self Control, which turned off my internet for a certain length of time (my default was 6 hours). Which was fine, and reduced distractions, except I tended to turn it on and then go do something else for 6 hours until the time expired. Great for doing things like laundry; not so much for getting words done. What’s great about Cold Turkey Writer is that I can’t use the internet, or anything else, until I write the words. And cut and paste doesn’t work, so I can’t just write a bit and then copy and paste it a bunch of times to quickly get to the goal. I have to write.

My routine right now has been to set it before I go to bed. That way I don’t get up in the morning and lounge around reading Twitter and Feedly until it’s time for work, and then get home from work and do the same until it’s time for bed. Instead, I don’t get access to any of those things until I reach my goal, and if I don’t reach my goal, welp—no internet for me.

So if you have problems with productivity, check it out. It might help.

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My only regret in taking this photo is that I didn’t see the unicycle owner ride up.

In other news, I’ve been rewatching the entirety of the Star Trek series. So far I’ve seen all 79 episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series, as well as the first 6 movies. In the past, I’d only ever seen Star Trek: Voyager, since it was airing on TV when I was growing up. (And fuck you with your “Oh my condolences.” I LIKED Voyager, okay?) I already knew the major plot points, but I wanted to see all of it. The television series is entertaining, if fluffy. The movies have been pretty good except for The Final Frontier, which was terrible. (Holy shit, who thought Kirk, Spock and McCoy singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” around a campfire was a good idea?) I look forward to seeing the rest.

 

Life update

My buddy Aimee Ogden received the Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award at the International Space Development Conference yesterday in San Juan, Puerto Rico for her amazing short story “Dear Ammi.” Aimee has been letting me read her still unpublished stuff in the guise of critiquing it, as if it even needs it, and let me tell you, this lady is talented. She’s going to be famous soon, mark my words. I can’t imagine a world in which she isn’t. Go and check her out.

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I’d post a picture of me and Aimee, but the only one I have is of us stuffing our faces with crawdads, so instead have this unflattering photo of me in a third person camera rig.

As for me, I’ve been doing my day job (which currently involves many, many hours of building a FileMaker database, and occasionally fixing printers) and getting some writing in. Aimee’s been churning out short stories like a short-story-writing machine, so it’s been guilting me into being more productive. I have a few things I’m exciting about. Oddly enough, this title generator has been the most helpful thing for my productivity. If you’re having any trouble coming up with ideas, just generate a few random titles and then try to think of what sort of story would fit that title. It’s remarkably effective.

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The cat, meanwhile, has been sapping that productivity away.

I’ve started exercising again, and to keep myself motivated, I’ve been trying to catch up on all those classic movies and tv shows that I’ve never seen. So far I’ve seen The Princess Bride, Grease, and Pulp Fiction. Soon to come are Jaws and Alien. I know just about everything that happens in those movies, since they’re so much a part of popular culture, but I never got around to actually watching them, so now is the time. What else should I watch? Labyrinth? The Godfather? Casablanca?

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Also I’ve been baking.

Oh, and I’ve been making music. Or rather, I’ve been playing around with Garageband, which used to be an obsession of mine about ten or eleven years ago. I like playing around with the free loops the app provides and making songs out of them. I set up a Soundcloud account with the songs I made, all under a creative commons license. So use them, if you like! Or at least listen to them. Or not. Whatever.

What else? I’ve been reading the Welcome to Night Vale novel. I’m a fan of the podcast and I bought the book a while ago, but only recently started reading it. At first it seemed a tad…hmm, I dunno, weird for the sake of being weird? But it’s growing on me. And if you enjoy that, check out the Alice Isn’t Dead podcast. It’s a very good story and I’ve had a crush on the narrator, Jasika Nicole, since she was Astrid Farnsworth on Fringe. Oh my gosh her voice is amazing.

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Just kidding! Here’s that picture of me and Aimee eating crawdads. My hair was very red at the time.

So that has been the state of me. What about you? Have you been up to anything interesting recently?

Decreasing distractions

I just registered for World Con/MidAmeriCon II! The hotel blocks were released Monday, so I registered and got my flight. I’ll be flying out to my friend Aimee Ogden‘s place, then road tripping it the seven hours to Kansas City, MO. We’re going to be driving through a LOT of farm land. I hope we can stop and see the World’s Largest Wooden Nickel or the Gas Station Jesus or something along the way. Aimee is really going to regret letting me road trip with her when she sees my list of kitschy roadside attractions that I want to visit.

 

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Seven straight hours of this

 

This week’s Writing Excuses was about getting in the frame of mind to write. That’s something I’ve been thinking of a lot recently because I have the attention span of a squirrel, and the siren song of my Xbox is strong. Mary said she’s started meditating, which actually sounds like it might work for me. Howard pointed out that it’s easy to keep writing regularly if you write regularly, and very easy to skip writing if you’ve already skipped writing once. Dan suggested ending each day’s writing session in the middle of a chapter so that you can pick it up easily again the next day. I’ve tried that, and it works, but my problem right now is focusing my brain for more than a sentence at a time. Every time I open up a document, I start thinking of all the other things I could be doing. Or I notice that my chair is uncomfortable and I decide to move to a better location. Or I realize that I really want some music right now, so I have to find some headphones. Or maybe I could use a coffee. Is it lunch time yet? What about snack time? Hey, has anyone said anything interesting on Twitter in the last five minutes?

 

Typically what I do when I need to get some writing done is use the app Self Control (It’s Mac only but there are others that do similar things). It turns off my access to the internet, or it blocks specific sites, depending on whether I set a whitelist or a blacklist. There’s absolutely nothing you can do to stop it until the timer runs out. This is fabulous for me, except that every time I turn it on, I start to think about all the laundry I need to do, or that closet organizing project I abandoned a month or two ago. Plus there’s that Xbox again, over which Self Control has no power.

 

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Then there’s the return trip

I’m getting a new computer soon, since my buggy old laptop has started crashing just about daily now. I’m considering setting up two accounts on the new computer, one for writing and being productive, the other for gaming and slacking off. Perhaps switching between two accounts will help me keep my brain organized. At the very least, it’ll put another road block in the way of me jumping on Tumblr the first time my mind starts to wander.

Anyone have any suggestions?

Hugos! and NecronomiCon!

CliqueThe Hugo Awards were last night. I did not stay up to watch the livestream because I’m an old lady (they didn’t even START until 11pm EDT). However plenty of people did, so there are a lot of postmortems floating around.

You may remember the controversy a few months ago when the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies, a group of angry conservatives who felt that the reason they weren’t winning Hugos was because of a secret liberal conspiracy and not because they failed at writing good books, teamed up with GamerGaters and stuffed the Hugo nomination ballots with tons of their own works. Even after the ineligible works of theirs were disqualified, a lot of the awards were entirely filled with puppies nominees. Vox Day, head of the group, threatened that they would continue to hold the Hugos hostage every year until people finally gave in and voted for him. Later, when it became apparent that a lot of people were planning to vote “No Award” in those categories where they felt none of the nominees deserved it, Vox Day and the other puppies decided that losing was actually a moral victory for them and that had been their plan all along.

Speeding trainANYWAY. Last night were the Hugos, and here are the results:

  • BEST NOVEL: The Three Body Problem, Cixin Liu, Ken Liu translator (Tor Books)
  • BEST NOVELETTE: “The Day the World Turned Upside Down”, Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Lia Belt translator (Lightspeed, 04-2014)
  • BEST GRAPHIC STORY: Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal, written by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Adrian Alphona and Jake Wyatt, (Marvel Comics)
  • BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, LONG FORM: Guardians of the Galaxy, written by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman, directed by James Gunn (Marvel Studios, Moving Picture Company)
  • BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, SHORT FORM: Orphan Black: “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried”, ” written by Graham Manson, directed by John Fawcett (Temple Street Productions, Space/BBC America)
  • BEST PROFESSIONAL ARTIST: Julie Dillon
  • BEST SEMIPROZINE: Lightspeed Magazine, edited by John Joseph Adams, Stefan Rudnicki, Rich Horton, Wendy N. Wagner, and Christie Yant
  • BEST FANZINE: Journey Planet, edited by James Bacon, Christopher J Garcia, Colin Harris, Alissa McKersie, and Helen J. Montgomery
  • BEST FANCAST: Galactic Suburbia Podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Presenters) and Andrew Finch (Producer)
  • BEST FAN WRITER: Laura J. Mixon
  • BEST FAN ARTIST: Elizabeth Leggett
  • JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER: Wesley Chu
  • Best Novella: No Award
  • Best Short Story: No Award
  • Best Related Work: No Award
  • Best Editor Short Form: No Award
  • Best Editor Long Form: No Award

Congrats to the winners! And congrats to No Award most of all. Not a single puppy won an award. The puppies believed that they were taking the awards out of the hands of a liberal minority hell bent on forcing diversity on the world and putting them into the hands of a silent conservative majority, but from the results of this vote, it’s pretty clear that silent majority doesn’t exist. I guess now we wait to see what next year’s awards will bring.

Victory

We'll be backFor further reading:

Chuck Wendig: “The Obligatory Hugo Awards Recap Post

Nicholas Whyte: “Hugo Awards 2015 – full analysis

Tobias Buckell: “What the Alternate Hugo Ballot Would Likely Have Been

Wired Magazine: “Who Won Science Fiction’s Hugo Awards, and Why It Matters

END HUGO RECAP

BEGIN NECRONOMICON COVERAGE

That Cthulhu Sunrise was very tasty.
That Cthulhu Sunrise was very tasty.

So I went to NecronomiCon Providence this weekend! Sort of. I wasn’t actually registered for the con itself, but I went to some of the peripheral events, including the Eldritch Ball, Lovecraft’s 125th birthday celebration, and the dealer’s hall.

NecronomiCon is a conference celebrating the work of H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft was a Providence native and many Providence landmarks made it into his books. Miskatonic University is thought to be modeled after Brown University. Lovecraft’s grave is famously inscribed with the words I AM PROVIDENCE. When I was living off Hope St in Providence, I walked through that graveyard very often.

A tiny Cthulhu on Lovecraft's grave
A tiny Cthulhu on Lovecraft’s grave

The con happens every other year (though this is only the second time it has run), and has attendees from all over the world. Many of the panels are academic, and the con makes it quite clear that though they love his work, Lovecraft’s bigotry and racism are not being overlooked. The setting of the con is gorgeous, with events taking place in the Biltmore Hotel, the Providence Athenaeum, and the First Baptist Church in America.

Overall, a very enjoyable con, with a lot of friendly and enthusiastic attendees. Walking through the city, it was very easy to pick out the con goers out of a crowd. Some of the local response to the con seemed a little stilted (“Hey there NecronomiCon attendees! Boy am I a big fan of that…” *looks at smudged ink on hand* “…Cathy?”) but I may actually register for the con next time and attend it for real.

Big Nazo's Intergalactic Band
Big Nazo’s Intergalactic Band

#PitchWars mentee bio

Hi there, Pitch Wars mentor! Welcome to my blog. I know that everyone involved in this really likes gifs, so let me say that again in gif form:

And I love you

I’m Bennett. I live in or near Providence, Rhode Island, depending on when you ask me. I work from home, which right now involves a lot of home maintenance projects, but I do some writing in there as well. I just sold a short story to Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine, which should be coming out within the next few months.

A lot of what I write is on the darker side of fantasy and science fiction, with a bit of humor mixed in. It’s mostly novel length stuff, though occasionally I’ll write a short story or two. The novel I’ve submitted for Pitch Wars is science fiction, and I’m really excited about it. I hope you are too.

Science!

I’m in the middle of reading Seveneves by Neal Stephenson right now. I’m also in the middle of reading The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, because I just can’t read one book at a time. Some of my favorite authors include China Mieville, Chuck Wendig and Mira Grant. Next on my reading list is…well, I got a whole stack of books at Necon when I went last month so I have a lot to choose from.

I just really wanted to use this gif.
I just really wanted to use this gif.

When I’m not writing, I’m rock climbing, taking photos, drawing or playing video games. I occasionally review video games on my blog. Rarely, I’ll post art. I don’t watch very much tv anymore, preferring to binge watch entire seasons on Netflix when they come out. The one show I still watch religiously is The Walking Dead. It has its problems, but it’s a guilty pleasure of mine.

I don’t have a lot of appropriate gifs for this
I don’t have a lot of appropriate gifs for this post

So that’s about it! I hope you enjoy reading my first chapter. I feel that this novel is just on the edge, and with your help, we can make it great. I know there’s a lot of applicants, though, and your choice is going to be really tough, so good luck!

5th element bye bye