Depression, the thief of time

June 10, 2017 § Leave a comment

You’ve likely heard the saying about depression being a liar, how it tells you awful things about yourself that paralyze you. That’s true. I’m not going to belabor that, but I do want to talk about how that paralysis can ruin you.

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Preview of Faceless, on sale now

June 8, 2017 § Leave a comment

My new novel, Faceless, is out on Amazon. It is, in my opinion, the best of the Nameless series, exploring Lovecraftian themes that I’ve spent my life dealing with as both a writer of weird fiction and a native of Rhode Island. Growing up as a lover of things weird in that start, you eventually run into the Lovecraft mountain, and this is the book that comes out of my attempt to play handball with said mountain – to throw ideas off of the Cthulhu Mythos and see where they stick, and where they don’t. I also tried to deal with racism and a lot of topics that are implicit but rarely discussed in Lovecraft’s work. Even though I do love me some Mythos, it’s impossible to ignore that old HPL was, to put it mildly, crazily racist. A modern writer looking back on his work needs to address that.

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On Euthanasia, Suffering and Endurance (TW Suicide)

March 16, 2017 § Leave a comment

I have read this article several times. It’s a long, complicated, well written, well examined look at euthanasia through the lens of one family’s experiences, with plenty of details from outside that one case. I’m not here to try and expand upon it. It’s worth reading and thinking about.

I’m not against euthanasia. I generally believe that if life has become unendurable, it should be within the power of the person suffering to make the decision on that. As a survivor of a suicide attempt and a disabled man just now coming to terms with my disability (visual impairment – I’m blind in one eye and impaired severely in the other)  I do have thoughts about the topic, however, and I want to share them.

The rest of this post is going behind a cut in case people don’t want to read or head about these topics.

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The Nominations post.

January 19, 2017 § 1 Comment

This is never a good look on someone and I’m not thrilled I’m doing it now. theaandthomas

I did a post back on the 4th covering my family situation. It’s actually gotten slightly worse, but people have done what they could and I appreciate every bit of help we got. This is only tangentially related to that post. In that post I mentioned that I was eligible for a Hugo award this year for both Nameless and Heartless, the two novels I published in 2016. I then asked folks to nominate me.

Being that I was a trifle stressed (still am) I failed to notice that it costs $165 US to become a member of Worldcon75, and thus be eligible to nominate someone for a Hugo award. That’s money I don’t even have myself, so asking people to spend that money just to nominate my books for an award is hubris writ large. That kind of kicked me in the stomach when I saw it.

So I apologize to anyone who felt like I expected them to spend that kind of money just to nominate me. That’s absurd. I don’t expect that. I should have realized what I was asking, and I apologize.

However, if you’re going to Worldcon75, or you already went to MidAmeriCon 2 (which was the 2016 Worldcon) or you’re going to Worldcon76 (the 2018 Worldcon) that means you’re already eligible to nominate. If that is the case, I’m still willing to ask you to consider nominating me. Why?

Well, first off, both novels are good. That’s not just me saying so. You can look at the reviews for Heartless on both Amazon and Goodreads and do likewise for Nameless as well. I’m not really very good at self promotion, as this post clearly attests, but I believe I’ve done good work and will be able to do better work in the future if I’m allowed to.

Frankly, one of the things that might stop me is Diabetic Retinopathy. This isn’t a “Please vote for the blind man” appeal, but rather a bare statement of fact. I only have a few years left at the current rate of degeneration, and as a result I’m focused on the now instead of a few years down the road. I get that many authors in my position would wait and hope to build buzz by putting out more works, but I don’t know that I have that kind of time. In a field where we saw last year outright racist, sexist, bigoted trolls unleash armies of sockpuppets to get books nominated, I’m just asking for consideration from decent people who want SFF to be a more inclusive place.

My work deals with identity, family, love, loss, and dealing with who you are and who you turn into. It includes LGBTQ characters because that’s what my life has included and it’s who I am as well. I want to tell the stories of people like the people I’ve known, sometimes I’ve loved, sometimes I’ve hated. Do I believe that either of my novels were the best that came out last year?

No. I’m not that good yet. I have serious stylistic hobbyhorses that I’m working on, I spent 12 of my prime writing years crippled by depression and self loathing and I’m not on top of my game yet. I’m good, and I’m working to get better, but I’m not the best yet and I know it. But frankly, I really am good. And my books are unique, distinctive, I don’t think you can honestly point to that much else out in the Weird SFF world that is like what I do.

I at least deserve your consideration.

I neither believe I will win nor even believe I will actually be on the short list. No one’s heard of me. I’ve only sold a few thousand copies of my books. I’m extremely obscure, even my one Publisher published book came out over a decade ago and that publisher has since moved into comic books. I’m not under any delusions about how widespread my name is or my chances. And I’m certainly not willing to ask anyone to spend $165 US just to nominate me for an award.

But like I said, my time is running out. I have to do the few things I can do to spread the word about my work while I’m still capable of producing it. Thus this post. This isn’t even a Hail Mary at this point. It’s more like trying to make a basket from the stands of the stadium next to the one the game is being played in. This is me just whipping that thing up into the air and praying it hits a comet. When the nominations period closes and I’m not nominated, I’ll shrug and get back to writing and hoping something breaks for me and my family.

If you feel moved to read my work and consider it, then thank you. That’s really all I can ask.

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.