Constant fiscal panic

January 4, 2017 § Leave a comment

I’ll try to get right to the point, since people have asked why yesterday was a disaster.

Last year, I was diagnosed with Diabetic Retinopathy, which is a fancy way of saying that the sugar crystals in my blood are destroying the blood vessels in my retina and causing bleeding inside my eyes. That bleeding and those destroyed vessels are blinding me. My right eye is something like 20/200 if not worse, and my left eye (my ‘good’ eye) is about 20/40 due to the constant injections I receive. This is in large part due to the generosity of strangers, who aided us when we set up a gofundme page last year. Since I am not a Canadian Resident yet (the paperwork is in, we’re just waiting to hear back) I am not covered, and your help has made a huge difference. Without you I would likely be completely blind right now.

Still, better isn’t good, and by itself that disaster might have been manageable. But it wasn’t the only one we suffered. My wife, who was working a 9 to 5 job, came down with a heart condition that resulted in her being barely able to walk around the house. It damaged her heart and caused it to go into fibrillation and it has not responded to treatment. She has to be on a cocktail of medications and yesterday we found out that the province of Alberta will not cover those medications. So we’re basically in damage control and we don’t know what to do.

The medication my wife is on is expensive, and worse, my eye condition isn’t curable, so I have a limited amount of time before I will be too blind to even work the job I have now. Hopefully a few years, but it could change.

You’ve all already been very generous – if not for the gofundme last year, I wouldn’t have been able to get my eyes treated or my immigration process started. But until that process completes we’re in a bind. At this point the only out we can think of it to push my writing to the point where it generates enough income to offset the thousands of dollars we’ll likely need this year just to cover the medication that keeps her heart intact. So that’s why I’ve been flogging my writing so hard the past few months and that’s why yesterday’s news hit us so hard.

If you want to help, we’re asking for any bit of promotion you can do. If you’re a voting member of Wondercon or plan to be, you can nominate me for a Hugo Award this year. Such a nomination would boost my profile considerably and could well help us financially to the point where we could absorb this expense. If you’d rather just throw money our way, I have a Patreon and it does have perks like free copies of my books and the upcoming audiobooks for both Nameless and Heartless as well as the novel I’m working on now, Faceless.

If you have not read my books, they’re available on Amazon. Nameless is available as both an ebook and a paperback. You can also get Heartless in either format as well. And I have two other ebooks as well if you like, essay collections that truck in weirdness, oddities and ahistorical musings.

I realize this isn’t a very dignified thing to do, and if it were just me, I wouldn’t do it. But I love my wife far, far more than I do my pride, and the slightest risk that she might die because I can’t afford her medication compels me to act. My writing is good. You can read the reviews on Amazon or Goodreads if you prefer. In a time when publishers are giving ardent racists $250,000 dollars I’m just asking you to support a writer who needs help and does the best work he can.

Thanks for reading this far and for anything you can do to help, whether it’s a nomination, a book purchase, a patreon donation, a book review on Amazon or Goodreads, or telling a friend about a book she or he might like. No matter how small it might seem to you, right now, every tiny piece of progress is worth something.

 

Because Twitter doesn’t have enough space sometimes

December 13, 2016 § Leave a comment

I wanted to write a bit about why, if you haven’t bought my novels Nameless and Heartless yet, you really should. Yes, it’s a sales pitch, but it’s at least a sales pitch with a little substance to it while still not dragging it out too much.

First up, you can now buy them in either kindle epub format or in paperback, so if you’ve been holding  out because you don’t like ebooks, there you go.

The first reason to read the story contained in the two novels is because it’s good. Of course I would say that – I wrote them, after all. So instead I’ll point you to Nameless’ Amazon reviews, where it averages out to a 4.7 star review with 45 reviews, 80% of which are five star reviews. Even on Goodreads, where the reviews were harsher, it tends to clock out at a 4 star review.I think this review by Jeff Raymond really gets the book, so I often point to it over reviews that rated the book better. I definitely wanted Nameless to tell a story, but in the process I also wanted to write a love letter to all the stuff I loved as a kid growing up – holiday myths, TV shows, comic books, horror novels and short stories, the works.

If you like plots where absolutely anything can and does happen and you won’t see the end coming, both Nameless and Heartless deliver this. I’m not just kidding here. Go ahead and read those reviews.

Heartless, for it’s part, has only been out for a month so it has less in way of reviews, but it’s still at a 4.67 on Goodreads and five stars on Amazon. Nameless is the beginning of a love story, but Heartless is much more about the idea that love stories never end – it’s just as interesting to see how people in love live their lives as it is to see it all start off.

That’s another thing about the series – I tried really hard to be inclusive to what I see in life that I often don’t see in fiction. I grew up not knowing what bisexuality was outside of a faint terror on the part of my parents (mostly my dad) that I was ‘queer’. Now that I’m an adult, I realize that yes, I am queer. The series realizes that being queer isn’t something that keeps you from having all the same sorts of problems as everyone else, that you still can fall in love, still can struggle with it, and if there are monsters in the world you still have to fight them. That’s kind of the reason I decided to write love stories, I wanted to see the kind of love I’d experienced and witnessed reflected in fiction.

Finally, you should read the books for Bry Williams. I don’t want to ruin Nameless for you by talking too much about Bry’s journey. But she’s an integral part of both books and so far everyone who’s read them has loved her. I think you might too.

Okay. That’s 500 words or so of me trying my best at a sales pitch. Hopefully at least a few of you will give the books a shot this Christmas.

Yes, The Empire in Star Wars is racist

December 9, 2016 § Leave a comment

They’re specifically Human Supremacists, if you want to get technical about it.

The Jedi Order was diverse. It had many aliens in it, as we see watching the Prequels in particular. The Clone Army we see in Episode II is cloned from a human and there’s no diversity at all – the Clone Troopers from which the Clone Wars takes its name are, in fact, all clones of one human man, the bounty hunter Jango Fett. (Even Jango’s ‘son’, Boba Fett, is a clone of Jango, just not aged to adulthood as the other Clone Troopers are.) When Order 66 comes down, the Clone Troopers execute their pre-programmed orders and kill the Jedi, thus nearly wiping out the Jedi Order and allowing Palpatine to claim supreme dictatorial power unopposed.

It’s repeatedly stated and shown that the Empire is indeed racist. No, they don’t care about the superficial differences between human races (although they are all most British because, well, Americans cast English people as villains a lot) but they deliberately allow the Wookies to be sold into slavery, and the pre-Empire scenes of Coruscant with aliens in a wide variety of roles are absent from the Empire’s day to day life. In the first of his Star Wars novels, Timothy Zahn even notes that Grand Admiral Thrawn is a rare exception to the Empire’s anti-alien bias (and since Thrawn is canon again, one assumes his origins are as well).

In short, the Empire isn’t White Supremacist only because in the far away galaxy of Star Wars, humans have actual alien beings to be racist at. Yes, the Empire is racist, as well as fascist. If you root for them, you’re rooting for racism and fascism. If you’re boycotting a movie because it deliberately portrays them as what they’ve always been (racist, fascist, evil) and you’re offended that the villains of a movie are shown as racist and fascist, maybe examine why that bothers you.

A Day That Will Live In Infamy

December 7, 2016 § 2 Comments

I was born on December 7th, 1971.

I was very premature – I was not expected to survive. I somehow managed to, not that I can take credit for it. I was a baby, babies don’t really have much of a say in these things. Doctors and nurses and my parents managed the trick, somehow. But there I was, a squalling little thing.

Both of my grandfathers fought in World War II. I imagine this is the case for a lot of people of my generation. They’re both dead now, and frankly, we’re getting to the point where there are not many survivors of the 1930’s and 40’s left. Someone born in 1931 would be 85 tomorrow, after all.

So maybe the recent surge in hate across the American political landscape has something to do with that – as the 1930’s recede fewer and fewer of us are left who remember the rise of hate groups in the run-up to World War II. And not everyone has read William L. Shirer. So maybe it’s understandable that people can’t or won’t connect demagoguery, hate speech, empty promises of a return to greatness and outright goddamn racism to something truly dangerous in our society.

But my grandfather taught me better.

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2016 and writing

December 5, 2016 § Leave a comment

theaandthomasI haven’t used this site all that much. Partially that’s because I hope to migrate to a new site soon (if I ever get it done) and partially because, well, stuff happened. Among the highlights of 2016 include my developing full-blown Diabetic Retinopathy (costing me the sight in my right eye) necessitating monthly eye injections and at least one bout of laser surgery to prevent the condition from progressing. So yeah, it’s been a year.

But I have gotten quite a bit of writing done this year. The image at the top of this post is of Thomas Willrew and Thea Mendel, the main characters/protagonists of Nameless, the first of two novels I wrote this year. It’s also available in paperback as a test of Amazon’s print on demand service. Buying the ebook is better for me financially, but if you prefer paper, now the book is accessible to you. I also wrote a sequel, Heartless, and if print on demand works out I’ll make sure to put a copy of Heartless on the service as well. Depending on if things change – I’m still hunting for a mainstream publisher and if I get one, I’d definitely go that route. I am not good at promotion.

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Nameless novel preview

May 16, 2016 § Leave a comment

I just put my third book, Nameless, up on Amazon. It’s four bucks. If you aren’t sure you want to spend four bucks for a book by me, I figured I could give you this sneak peek and you could read it and decide for yourselves. Hopefully you’ll like it.

Chapter Three

The Phantom World

 

Inside, the house smelled that particular brand of stale that came from a person barely living in it. He’d snapped after four months and done a clean. That seemed to be his limit. Hers wasn’t as bad as his had been at three months, she could probably go longer.

“I haven’t slept here in…” She was counting backwards in her head. “Two months.”

“Where do you sleep?”

“Mostly my car.” She shrugged, put her keys in her pocket. “So what now?” She took his jacket off, hung it on a hook near the front door.

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An update

February 12, 2016 § 4 Comments

Well, that was certainly not what I expected.

I’m terrible at knowing how to deal with generosity of this magnitude, so I’ll just say thank you. I’m learning about managing my expectations — even with full treatment I may not see any improvement, there are plenty of other complications with Diabetes, lots of work ahead and potentially no good news at the end of all of it. But as naturally cynical as I often am, I’d have to already be blind to not see how amazing this reaction was, and not to be stunned by it.

Thank you all very much. Heading forward at least not as panicked about everything I’m going to have to do in the next year or so.