07/15/24

Hold On to Hope when Things are Darkest

There are good times and there are bad times to launch a book. The Psychic on the Jury is officially out now, has been for three days, and it’s really hard to think about that or put energy into it. I’m mostly stuck, focused on the assassination attempt, and all of the ways people are reacting to it.

I’m seeing a lot of doom and gloom. Too many people in my spheres are saying, “That’s it. This clinches it for Trump.”

Tons of people are saying that. So many that, if they were to all show up at the ballot box in November, Biden would win in a landslide.

When people are in despair, when they’ve given up, they tend to stay home. So let’s talk about some reasons why it’s okay to remain hopeful, and why the end of this story isn’t certain.

Let’s start with Project 2025. It’s still the Republican’s handbook, and it is full of scary, un-American bullshit. It is deeply unpopular, so Trump tried to distance himself from it. We’re not buying it, though, because his attempt was weak — he wished them luck in all that they do — and the people that wrote Project 2025 are all people that worked for him. They want to work for him again.

“But the assassination attempt!”

The person that attempted to kill Trump was a 20 year old registered Republican, using an AR-15. One of Trump’s own tried to kill him using a gun that Republicans famously fight to keep on the streets. How does this help Trump get re-elected?

Compare that with Biden’s response. Biden has been genuine, human, empathetic, and warm. Which again, forces us to look at history and how Trump reacted when Pelosi’s husband was bludgeoned with a hammer. Again, how does this help Trump get re-elected?

“But Biden sucks!”

Does he, though? He’s old and he doesn’t speak very well, but his administration has been putting up good numbers. Do you care about student loan debt? Or legalization of marijuana? Or low unemployment rates? Or a booming economy? Or…

Pick a stat. Look at the actual numbers. Biden’s administration has been great for the country.

He did terrible at a debate that didn’t matter, because everyone’s mind was already set on who they were going to vote for. We have history to look at for the performance of both presidential candidates. On that history alone, Trump should lose. Bigly.

And, going back to Project 2025, we know how much worse a second Trump presidency will be.

If that’s not enough to convince you, let’s look at the Supreme Court. The next president is going to select some number of new justices on the court. And what has this current court brought us?

The end of established law. Roe v Wade: overturned. The Chevron Deference: overturned. Checks and balances on the executive branch: destroyed. We have a supreme court that has produced wildly unpopular, terrible decisions. Elect Trump, and he’ll put Aileen Cannon on the bench. If you don’t know who she is, consider yourself lucky.

We have to remain hopeful and vote in such numbers that the gerrymandering and double dealing is insufficient to stop us.

If you don’t like Biden, that’s fine. Vote for him anyway. Vote for his administration. Vote to keep Trump out of office. There really isn’t a “both sides” to this.

I will remind you that I am not a Democrat. I’m registered Independent, and I have plenty of criticisms to level at the Democrats. Now isn’t the time for that. We have to hold each other up, defeat the demagogue, and then roll up our sleeves and do the work that will actually make America great.

07/13/24

Tired of Living in Interesting Times

Thursday and Friday, I called in sick. I had body aches, a mild sore throat, some coughing, and just didn’t feel like I could focus on work. I feel better today, but in the process of dodging work and recovering, I completely skipped July 12th, 2024, the day The Psychic on the Jury officially released.

Today is July 13th, 2024, and it seems like… other news… takes precedent.

I’m not going to write something stupid or foolish here. If you know me, you probably know that I greatly dislike Donald Trump. There are many, many, many reasons why.

However, I don’t want him dead. I want to defeat him in the polls and the ballot box. I want his followers and worshippers and sycophants and enablers to all see him for the monster that he is, and then I want to never hear from him (or the rest of his family) again. If he wants to spend the rest of his miserable life on one of his golf courses, that would be fine.

I would like to see him face the consequences of his actions, but I would settle for almost any series of events in which I don’t have to hear him speak again.

By “almost any series of events” I mean, I’m not in favor of him being martyred, assassinated, killed… we don’t need more violence.

Has he espoused and promoted violence at his rallies? Yes. That doesn’t mean I think he should receive it himself.

We need de-escalation. We need to hold onto our morals, put down the pitchforks (and guns), and be the kind of people that deserve the country our forefathers fought and bled for. We need to be better than our forefathers, for that matter.

We need to be united.

I would rather be talking about my book and my writing journey. Instead I’m looking at things like Project 25 and today’s shooting, and all I can think is, “My God. This really is the end of my country, isn’t it?”

It doesn’t have to be. But we have to start getting ready for the worst.

I think Trump and his followers are going to fan the flames and try to escalate things. I think we’re going to see more violence before we get to the election. We need to de-escalate. We need to hold onto our morals, refrain from getting dragged down into fights that are beneath us, and make our voices heard in November.

I’m tired of living in interesting times. When times are boring, someone like me can spend days like today trying to drum up interest in their little book, rather than plead to the void not to do anything hasty or stupid. Instead, we have assassination attempts and plans for tyranny and fascism.

Please stay safe out there and remember who we are.

07/8/24

Post Baycon 2024

Good evening! It’s Monday night, still sweltering in Sacramento, and I really need to talk about the event Melissa and I attended this weekend. The ups, the downs, and the things I hope for the future.

To begin with, we had a great time! I had the privilege of participating on 4 panels this year, two on July 4th, and two on July 5th.

The very first panel, The Business and Writing and Publishing, was moderated by Dr. Wanda Kurtcu and was reasonably well attended. I thought we’d talk more about publishing and the professional author life, but we wound up going over some very good fundamentals of writing and finishing stories. If you can’t finish a story or see an idea through to its conclusion, none of the publishing advice in the world will help, so I thought it was a good use of our time, and the people in the audience seemed to enjoy it.

My next panel, from 8:30PM to 10:00PM on the 4th of July, was How Do I Get Published. Baycon takes place at the Marriott directly across the street from Great America, so naturally I assumed people would be more interested in fireworks at that time. Therefore, I brought Scotch to share with the panelists, a very tasty 12 year old Grangestone. To my surprise, we had 12 to 15 people to speak to. I shared with them, too, and we had a good time.

I should note that I wound up the moderator for that panel. I’m told I did an excellent job, and I felt pretty good about it.

The panels the next day were also great, though the Can We Survive AI Assisted Disinformation panel went off the rails a little bit. There’s a lot of fear and confusion around AI, and politics crept into the topic as well. While addressing the political component, I remained as neutral as possible.

When not on panels, I was in the dealer’s room, with the Water Dragon and Small Publishing in a Big Universe tables. I pitched my book and others, and had quite a number of sales. I had badge ribbons to hand out, and my gimmick was that, before I’d give out the ribbon, they had to let me tell them about my books. A fair exchange, I think.

I didn’t pressure anyone. I mostly just talked, sometimes going so far as to geek out about favorite stories and authors. And, I did my best to promote other books on the tables, even directing people to the Liminal Fiction table when the person clearly wanted something they could find there.

Also, I recorded some Live from Baycon 2024 episodes. I really enjoy hosting the podcast from time to time. The people I interviewed said they had a lot of fun and thanked me for the experience. The Live from Baycon 2024 episodes should go up next month or so, and I’ll provide links when they’re available.

There’s so much I can talk about. I met some new people. I got to hang out with some old friends and acquaintances. We went to dinner with friends and fellow writers a few times and really enjoyed their company. Because there weren’t any readings at the convention, we had some of our own. About 10 people showed up for the reading the first night. I wasn’t able to make it to the next night, but I think there were about 10 people then, too.

Finally, I have to talk about something truly unexpected. Many of the books I’ve sold have gone out to friends, families, acquaintances… people that know me and may be otherwise incentivized to say nice things. One of the days, someone I didn’t know, that bought my book at a previous con, sought me out. She LOVED The Repossessed Ghost and wanted to know if there was more. My story struck a chord with her. The joy she expressed brought joy to my heart. It was such a powerful experience for me.

That’s most of the positive experiences. I don’t really have much in the way of complaints, thought I have some suggestions. In no particular order, I’ll list them out:

  • The primary purpose of the name badges is so that people can see the names of the other attendees. The real estate of the badges this year was mostly taken up with the convention logo, so they wound up using a very small font for the names themselves. My suggestion is to minimize the logo and prioritize the names.
  • Registration was a bit of a mixed bag. I was able to get my badge early and easily, but there were some oddities. If you were a participant on panels, you could get your badge from ProgOps. If you were a pre-order, such as a board member for the SPSF, there was a different table to go to for your badge. If you were working in the dealers’ room marketplace, you could get a badge there. Some of these locations had lanyards. Some did not. If you were like me and did all three things, you needed to go to multiple places to get all the things. When registration opened for real, the line went long and didn’t appear to move very fast. I went by the line multiple times on July 4th and saw my friend Marvin several times, not moving. I appreciate the effort that goes into managing registration and badges and whatnot. From my perspective, it seems like there was a lot of room for improvements.
  • The Guest of Honor said she was well taken care of, but her book was nowhere to be found in the marketplace. That seems like a huge misstep, and can easily be fixed in future conventions.
  • Programming was very different this year, and I’m not sure it worked out. There were definitely gaps, and the final schedule didn’t get out in a very timely fashion. Because of this, many of the rooms were mislabeled. For example, the Can We Survive AI panel was labeled as Redshirts outside the door.

There’s more I can say, but I’d rather end on a more positive note. Running conventions is hard. While there was room for improvement, I think Baycon 2024 was an overall success, and I’m very glad I attended.

I’m looking forward to Baycon 2025!

But before that, there will be Loscon…

07/2/24

Preorders Up for The Psychic on the Jury!

Here is the Amazon link!

It looks like the new cover is showing up for The Repossessed Ghost as well, though I’m only seeing it on the Trade Paperback and Kindle editions, while hard cover is the original. I’ll check with Steven on this. I suspect that the change just hasn’t gone through yet. From some stuff Steven told me, Amazon can be a little slow with changes like this.

Also note… if you’re clicking through and looking at the series in Amazon, it sort of looks like The Psychic on the Jury is the first book. This is not true. Because it is shorter (and cheaper), I think some people unfamiliar with my work might read it first. It doesn’t contain significant spoilers for The Repossessed Ghost, although it does depict Mel in control of his powers. A big part of The Repossessed Ghost is Mel learning to open his Mind’s Eye and use his abilities intentionally, but I don’t see this is a major spoiler.

I think the only real problem with reading them out of order is that The Repossessed Ghost takes place over a decade ago, and an unobservant reader might wind up confused since The Psychic on the Jury takes place a few years later, but before the pandemic.

Oh! This just in…

Steven is sorting the books tonight. He paused to post this image. It might be hard to see, but right in the middle on the right is a stack of The Psychic on the Jury.

There had been a chance that the book wouldn’t be there for Baycon. Books in shipping get delayed all the time. But there it is! This is the first time I’m getting to see that book in real life.

So exciting!

Again, the pre-order link is above. If you happen to be in Santa Clara this weekend, you can stop by Baycon and visit me in the dealer’s room. From what I can tell, the dealer’s room is open to the public. And just like The Repossessed Ghost was pre-released at Baycon last year, The Psychic on the Jury will be available at Baycon this year.

I really need to work on the sequel novel for next year.