Saturday, February 14, 2009

On the road again: Las Vegas, day 1

I slept two and a half hours (with one wake-up, alas), then began the travel day. The trip involved a single, non-stop flight, so the transit time was as small as it reasonably could be. So, too, unfortunately, was the plane's interior, so I spent the flight with my shoulders rolled inward.

We're here for fun, though I still must do some work each day. A big part of the fun is a daily show, most of them Cirque du Soleil productions. To make attending them easier, a few of us went out in the late afternoon to stand in will-call lines and pick up the tickets I'd purchased previously. We walked from the Venetian to the Mirage to the Bellagio, then gave in and took a cab to the Luxor. If you don't know Las Vegas, that may not seem like much, but it actually was quite a lot walking; you can walk two blocks or more just getting from the front of a single casino building to its rear.

I'm getting very antsy at not yet writing Children No More, but I'm still not ready. I will hope to be so within a few weeks.

I've slept less than five hours total in the last two nights, so I'm going to cut this short before I do something stupid and start talking about roach gods or lizard experiments or any of those other awful and yet funny things from my past. Yeah, it's definitely time to stop this one. Off to sleep I go!

Friday, February 13, 2009

My brain hurts

from far too many hours of work, less than three hours of sleep, the prospect of getting less than three hours of sleep again tonight due to an early wake-up to catch a plane--and from watching the video below. If you've experienced one of the quarter-million viewings this thing has already racked up, I apologize for showing it to you again, but I just learned about it today from Sarah.

If you haven't seen it, enjoy--and let it run despite the overly cute beginning. It stays cute, but then it gets weird.

I'll post tomorrow from Las Vegas.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The electronic ARC of Overthrowing Heaven is now available!

I'm quite pleased to be able to announce that you can now buy the online advance reading copy (meaning it hasn't been through final copyedit or galley edits) of Overthrowing Heaven. If you'd like the book, just go to this page on Baen's site, and you can buy it.

I think it's my best novel yet, and it's certainly the longest, so it should keep you busy for a while. I hope you enjoy it.

Meanwhile, I need to keep plotting Children No More, the next book in the series. Man, this one is going to be dark and rough--and give you another piece of Jon's past. I can't wait to be writing it.

Science Magic Sex

That's the title of the spoken word show I'll be doing at Balticon. I won't say more about its contents, but you can get a little information from the Balticon podcast page, where they're now featuring a promo for the show.

In a move that reeks of ego but is actually a combination of amusing myself and (until now) a secret manipulation attempt, we're going to make tour t-shirts for the show. We may even bring a few to the con--or not; I haven't decided yet.

Here's the secret manipulation plan: I do the show. A lot of folks show up (this is where you guys have to help out). It goes well, and we all enjoy ourselves. The word spreads. Other cons hear and ask me to do it for them; WorldCon, are you listening? Then, we'd have a tour, a lot of folks would have laughed and had a good time, and I would have indulged my desire to do more spoken word.

Aren't secret plans grand?

Speaking of which, is that a Blue Rodeo plug I feel coming on? It is indeed, for the first single from their recent Small Miracles act, a song entitled, appropriately enough, "C'mon." Enjoy.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Some TED talks I loved

Jennie said today that most of my blog entries sounded depressed. She's right. I'm stressed, I'm not done outlining, I'm fat, etc.--and so I am down. At the same time, I came away from TED with some renewed energy and a desire and internal commitment both to be better and to do at least small things to help make the world better. To help illustrate why, let me mention just a few of the many TED talks and events that I loved. This list isn't comprehensive by any means; I just want to show you some of the up sides of TED. The list is also not in chronological order.

Ben Zander led all of us in singing "Happy Birthday" to one TED attendee. Yeah, I know, it sounds dorky, but by the end of it I and everyone around me was smiling and full of energy. Zander's like that.

I've already mentioned Elizabeth Gilbert, but to me she nailed the pain in the creative process--and now you can watch it. I'd go to any talk she gives.

Ray Anderson stood and in the calm, accented voice of a Southern businessman (which he is) told the story of how he turned his carpet business into an amazingly green company--and he's not done yet.

Naturally 7 made me want to buy their CDs. Amazing and lovely.

Bonnie Bassler explained how she and her students determined that bacteria communicate, how they do it, and how it's possible to use that knowledge to save lives. If she had been my biology teacher ever, I'd have gone to every tutorial and probably nursed a multi-year crush in the process.

Willie Smits earned a standing ovation with his matter-of-fact tale of tackling an insanely complex problem and, over the course of years, solving it.

I've also already mentioned Barry Schwartz, but his call for the application of practical wisdom definitely resonated with me and with everyone around me.

Finally, I can't say it too many times: the concert by the youth orchestra in Caracas reached inside me, lifted me up, and for a few glorious moments filled me with a joy and hope that left me smiling and clapping until my hands hurt.

So, despite my own frequent depression, was TED worth it? Oh, hell, yeah!

Monday, February 9, 2009

On the road again: TED@PalmSprings, day 6

Travel dominated today: get up, shower, check out, take a taxi to the airport, check in, board, fly to DFW, wait and work, fly to RDU, and finally get a ride home. The only times I ever wish I was rich enough to own a private plane are when I’m moving from one coast to another. Still, at least I’m home.

I owe a special thanks to the nice American Airlines check-in folks in Palm Springs, who noticed my bag weighed 51.8 pounds, then took it anyway. I’ll try not to make that mistake again; the only reason I was over the limit this time was that TED gave us a lot of printed material I forgot to ship home with my TED bag.

I’m still processing TED, and I probably will be for some time to come. This one did not blow me away the way the first one did, but at the same time it moved me, impressed me, made me think, and left me wanting to improve both myself and the world. Those are all good things and more than enough justification to attend next year, as I hope to do.

As long as I stay in my own little world, I don’t feel like a complete failure more than, say, half the time (or so). When I go to TED, however, everyone around me seems more accomplished, cooler, and just generally better than I am. After a period of depression, my reaction always takes a predictable turn: I get angry—not at them, mind you, but at myself. If I want to do better, do more, get thinner, get in shape, whatever, then I need to shut up and get busy and just do it.

And so I shall. I’m going to work hard to better myself on multiple fronts this coming year. I’m not dumb enough to believe I’ll achieve enough to quiet my inner demons, but at least I can do a little better, do a bit more, get at least somewhat thinner, get in better shape, and generally make some progress.

Of course, the odds are high that next year at TED, I’ll feel just as much the outsider and the failure as I did this time, but hey, I will have tried.


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