Saturday, June 1, 2013

Emma Newman's Any Other Name and Scavenger Hunt!

The swank cover art for Any Other Name.

It's a hectic time in my little world. We've been touched by two tornadoes in just the last week, and while I'm not sure, I may have been electrocuted. Tornadoes bring a lot more lightning than I'd expected. May have to blog a bit more about that soon.

There is some good news in the world, though. Emma Newman is launching her second novel in just one year, Any Other Name, with the brilliant Angry Robot Books. It's already out in the U.S. and will launch on June 6th in the U.K. She's invited me to help play a little game with the launch. Here's her pitch:

Friday, May 31, 2013

Bathroom Monologue: Strange Drugs

Photo by Stephen Shore.

   This one removes all your fears. It's said they're replaced with a smoky nothingness and a faintly yellow flavor.
   This one replaces all your fears with the fears your parents have for you.
   This one replaces all your fears with identical fears in different orders. Said to be very useful for schizophrenics seeking introspection.

   This one makes you admire clouds more often.
   This one makes clouds admire you more often.
   This one has no clinically proven effect, yet many customers claim to find rainstorms friendlier.

   This one allows you to read, comprehend and discuss philosophy with absolute acumen. You'll go through Kant in an evening. It, however, provides no satisfaction.
   This one provides absolute satisfaction with no application. You'll achieve nothing and be perfectly alright with it until the drug passes.
   This one lets you read, comprehend and discuss the shortcomings of others with absolute acumen. You'll achieve nothing and be perfectly passionate regardless until the drug passes.

   This one makes you taller.
   This one makes you smaller.
   This one stops up rabbit holes.

   This one fills you with the fear of God.
   This one makes you realize you have always been full of the fear of God.
   This one gives you a radically incomplete and yet hardy appreciation for what God fears.

   This one unlocks your full mental and emotional potential.
   This one dulls any anxiety from having realized how meager certain potentials are.
   This one makes you feel exactly like you think you used to feel before all those unfortunate revelations that come with time. You never actually felt this way, but the drug doesn't know better.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Bathroom Monologue: Christopher Lee is Not Dead

Dear Twitter,

Please stop scaring me into thinking Christopher Lee is dead.

We both love his infernal majesty. His grace, his voice, his simultaneous humanity and inhumanity - he is the most charming stuff of nightmares. And he has a new metal album coming out, which is very funny and apt and other adjectives.

Yet you must understand that when you talk about him, he trends worldwide. And when any aged celebrity trends worldwide, I presume they've died.

Bill Cosby has died at least five times. It's been very hard on my nerves.

With Lee shooting up the social media ranks over and over for his album and popular interviews, I've been terrified to think our lord of darkness in cinema had passed twice just this week. On Tuesday I got remorse whiplash and had to start wearing a brace on my empathy.

And yes, I know that Christopher Lee can't really die, only explode into a cloud of bats. But don't be so semantic. You're killing me.

John Wiswell

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Bathroom Monologue: Three Laws Concerning Children

"Don’t have sons. If they survive childhood, they’ll be drafted off to war, sentencing you to spending every day dreading news. You’ll imagine them sweating, and fleeing, and crying out for you, all while you have to pretend how proud you are, instead of how your life is defined by dread of mailmen.

"Don’t have daughters. You’ll fear for their safety every time they leave the house, and you can’t fix the world that wants to abuse them, and you’ll never be able to prepare them for everything out there. They’ll be degraded, and paid less, and attacked more, and expected to appreciate it.

"Don’t have no children. Then you will spend your entire existence haunted by who should have been born, and the successes they could have wrought, and the mud they could have tracked onto your carpet. If you keep your carpets clean for fifty years, they will not be as valuable to you as will be if they suffer a single indelible foot-shaped stain. It will be an accident that fills all the empty moments, and emptiness is something the soul can not abide. You must have children.

"It's so hard being a parent. So hard not being one. The weight of being both has about broken me."

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Writing for Millions

Everybody wants to be a writer and they should. Go to any bookstore and read the names. Stephanie Meyer. J.K. Rowling. The Da Vinci Code Guy. I never hear about these people collecting garbage or working at Wal-Mart. Writing must be all they have to do, which means they have to get paid a lot. Now look at the whole bookstore. That’s a lot of writers, all getting paid millions of dollars. And it’s so easy to write!

I read a book by Mark Twain once and it sounded like how people talk. Imagine how easy it was for him to just write what he’d say. You could talk into a tape recorder for a while and then pay someone else to type it out for you with the millions of dollars all writers get paid.

But if you are old fashioned and want to write by hand, that’s fine. All you have to do is sit and type. You don’t even have to type that much. Ernest Hemingway once said that if you write a page a day then you have a 365-page novel at the end of the year. I’ve never checked his math but assume he’s right because he’s famous. So if you write about a page, you’re pretty much done for the day. Thanks to Spell Check you don’t even have to edit anymore.

Also, I never heard of Hemingway doing anything but writing and getting drunk. Again: writing is a sweet job since you don’t have to do anything else in your whole life.

I don’t really know how publishing works, but you get paid in a lot of ways. There’s the advance before you even write it, then they pay you when you give them the book, and royalties when they start selling it. Since you get millions every time, that’s three million for one book. You get even more millions after they make a movie out of it. A lot of movies are based on books, so I assume all books become movies that pay you extra and you don’t even have to pay taxes on that.

It’s not all fun, though. Eventually your hand cramps up from signing so many autographs and people who are scared of crowds might get nervous from being stopped and fondled on the street by their flocks of teen fans. I’m sure it gets annoying eventually. It’s probably why Hemingway drank. I don’t know because I’ve never read his books. But what I’m saying is that if you’re not ready to be rich and really popular, writing might seem overwhelming. Fortunately book tours and interviews are totally optional since they pay you the same no matter what.

I’d tell you more but this is almost a full page. So in conclusion, I want to write because it’s easy and pays a lot.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Bathroom Monologue: Sweet Potato Revolution

Sweet potato soup, sweet potato casserole and sweet potato pie. You can get everything sweet potatoes make at the festival, the fourth annum of the revolution. Sweet potato toast in the morning, and sweet potato shakes for the health-conscious. There are sweet potato fries served hot from dawn to dusk, though some sweet potatoes dislike that they're fried in mammal fat. Others decry that as a bit of a hypocrisy and against the spirit of the festival. Most sweet potatoes savor the flavor, and they experiment in realms culinary with their livestock. It's said to be like what Thanksgiving was for humans, though since the revolution it's sweet potatoes that eat humans, and in so many ways.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

12 Questions for SF/F/H Readers

John DeNardo of SF Signal introduced (and possibly created) a little questionnaire for SciFi, Fantasy and Horror readers. They're interesting questions because, as common as most are, they split people in huge ways. I'm sharing them and my answers here; if you're interested, please follow suit in the Comments, or link back here on your own blogs. 

1.         The last sf/f/h book I read and enjoyed was:
Roger Zelazny's The Doors of His Face, The Lamps of His Mouth. Incredible short story collection; "Divine Madness" has one of the most affecting endings I've ever read.

2.         The last sf/f/h book I read and did not enjoy was:
Diana Wynne Jones's Howl's Moving Castle. The characterization and prose style just were not for me. Didn't help that I read it while insanely ill.

3.         A sf/f/h book that I would recommend to new sf/f/h readers is:
J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. What the hell? You're not exposed to any of the genres, so give this a shot and see if the roots of Fantasy are for you. If it is, then we can have many happy chats.

4.         A sf/f/h book that I would recommend to seasoned sf/f/h readers is:
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