Saturday, August 15, 2009

Two songs

For almost as long as I've been actively working on Children No More, I've been listening frequently to two songs. I would argue that one is good and one is overblown but pretty good, but I wouldn't try to fight with anyone who said they were schmaltzy or too emotional; they are both heavy on emotion.

Nonetheless, they touch my heart in exactly the right way for sections of this book, and so I've listened to them again and again and again. I expect I'll continue to do so for as long as I'm writing this novel.

The first is The Fray's hit, "How To Save a Life." I don't expect most folks to laugh at me for this one. Someone, probably Sony, disabled the embedding of its YouTube video, so you'll have to go here to listen to it.

Go ahead; I'll wait.

Ah, good: you're back.

I expect this second song to draw some mockery, but I don't mind. Yes, it's overblown and Meat Loaf works it too hard and all of Steinman's worst excesses are on display, but I don't care. It's just right for my mood, and it will always hit my heart, and that's that.

If you don't know it, enjoy.

Friday, August 14, 2009

It was just a phone

While I was in Canada, to save money we decided not to buy the rather expensive Canadian data roaming plan for my iPhone. So, for the entire trip, a time during which I was not on vacation but keeping current on work and doing writer and fan things, I could not check my email on my phone--nor stock prices, nor the weather, nor the news. In fact, all I could do with the damn thing was make phone calls.

I have to tell you, it was mighty strange and definitely unsatisfactory. I'm all for going offline on vacation, and I try to do that as much as possible, but during normal business I like to stay connected. I've come to depend heavily on my iPhone for connectivity when I'm away from my notebook. I was in a restaurant, for example, and wanted to look up the meaning of a French word on the menu. I pulled out my iPhone for a quick check and--I put it away again.

All the people I know rely to greater or lesser degrees on their notebooks and phones and Internet access as a way to augment their readily available data. Losing that support in a place you've come to count on it really does feel like losing a mental appendage. I'm not at all comfortable with that statement, but it's definitely true.

Next time I'm in Canada, I'm going to think harder about that stupidly expensive data roaming plan.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Guest post: Slanted Jack and why the movie will be a success

MVN: This guest post comes courtesy of Ticia, who wrote it to amuse herself and me. I thought it might amuse you as well, so I persuaded her to let me put it here as a guest entry. Enjoy.

1) Your instincts to have Will Smith be Jon are dead on. I believe he would take the franchise far. He's gorgeous, he's talented, and he comes with a devoted following.

2) Every time I finish a Jon and Lobo book, I am left with the sad realization that there is no movie version of the books on DVD. Think of the joy movie-goers will experience when they realize they can rush right out and buy three (soon to be four) Jon and Lobo adventures.

3) When the movie is met with universal praise and awe, the chances of an audio book release are greater. There is a whole audience out there who listens to books while they commute. They are being dreadfully neglected right now.

4) You know you want to be a "foodie consultant" on the movie set. The restaurant scene will need a "location scout" as well. Imagine how much fun you'd have doing the research.

5) While "Overthrowing Heaven" has many visuals I'd love to see on the big screen, Wonder Island may cost too much to reproduce as a first venture. But, after "Slanted Jack" breaks all box-office records, the sky's the limit.

6) Also, in "Overthrowing Heaven", the beautiful Matahi and the fact that she's a courtesan might kick the rating level up from a PG-13 to an R; Or, if we were lucky, NC-17. We don't want that. We want to hook the families with young children. Two generations of readers is better than one.

7) I also nixed "One Jump Ahead" as the first movie because of Lobo. We need a fully functioning Lobo for marketing. Because there will be toys. Your books don't offer toys and I find that to be a serious downside. I want Jon and Lobo action figures.

8) ComicCon loves Sci Fi movies. Graphic Novel can't be far behind.

I could go on, but I don't want to bruise your writer's ego. So I won't even mention:

9) Michael Bay attached as director.


10) Happy Meal tie-ins.

MVN: I have to to say that if I got Will Smith for a Slanted Jack movie, I'd shut up about Michael Bay and the Happy Meal tie-ins--and cash the big checks that would come rolling in.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pimping Jain's art balls

That title sounds a bit dicey, doesn't it? Jain sometimes refers to them as "balls onna stick," but that's really not much better. (In fact, that's kinda ouch! and not an image I want to keep in my head.)

Regardless of what we call them, these are the nifty pieces of art that I've mentioned in a few recent blog entries and that were on display and for sale in the convention art show. Several folks have written me for more information on them, so I thought I'd show you a few pictures so you can get a sense of them. Seeing them in person is really necessary for full appreciation, because cool stuff is on all sides of each one, but this is as close as I can get with the data available to me right now.

First up is one you can't buy, because Jain gave it to me for my birthday. It now sits to the left of my main monitor in my home office. To the best of my knowledge, it has no title, which is fine by me.

This one, Heroes of the Revolution, is also no longer available, because it's traveling home with a very happy purchaser who fell in love with it at this con.

This fine weird beastie, Rats, Bats, and Bunnies, could be yours. If you're interested, contact me through the site, and I'll hook you up with Jain. The prices are more than reasonable--in fact, I think she should increase them--so act now!

Waiting for Sam, this next bit of oddness--and, no, I don't know who Sam is--is also still available. I find it rather cheerful; don't you?

The Anticipation Art Show judges also liked it a great deal, because they awarded it a blue ribbon--one of only eight for the whole show. So, you could have your very own award-winning piece of art!

Last but not least is What's In Your Hand, a piece that, like so many of these, makes less sense but becomes even more cool as you study it more closely.

That's not all of them, of course, but these five should provide you with good sample mental images the next time I mention Jain's balls.

And if you visualize any other image, that's just not my fault.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

On the road again: Worldcon, Montreal, day 7

I went to sleep a little after three a.m. I woke up at 3:40 a.m. screaming in pain from the worst calf cramp I've experienced in many, many years. I shut myself up quickly as the annoyance and embarrassment at making that much noise was about as bad as the pain. I have no idea what triggered the cramp, but my leg is still sore. Annoying indeed.

You can bet I'll be stretching and taking some potassium before bed tonight.

After the usual interminable passage through security at the airport, we found that due to construction--soon to improve the quality of our travel!--our lunch choice was Burger King or Burger King. We opted for Burger King. I hadn't eaten there in a very long time. It still tastes the same, which is to say, okay but not really very good.

We were supposed to have an insanely tight connection in LaGuardia, but I should never have worried; the gods of New York lateness came to our rescue: we arrived twenty minutes early and left more than half an hour late.

The ride home was bumpy but tolerable enough that I was able to write for most of it.

I'm home now and trying to unpack, process the snail mail, and so on. The first couple of days after a big con are always odd, a transition from the unreal to the real, but I have no room in my life for a slow changeover, so I must dive into the real.

Ready or not, here I come!

Monday, August 10, 2009

On the road again: Worldcon, Montreal, day 6

Today was mostly work with a little Montreal tossed in as seasoning. I slept late, then picked up my art purchases, chatted with a few folks, and had some lunch.

Dinner was at Europea, a very nice French restaurant whose tasting menu was quite good.

This Worldcon, like many recent ones, involved a great deal of walking. The main hotel (and the one in which I'm staying), for example, is a full half a mile from the convention center. The function rooms there that held my panels were typically a few blocks further. So, at least I got a little exercise. Poor Jennie, who due to her broken foot had to navigate the entire convention on a KneeWalker scooter and a cane, got a great deal more. This nifty device attracted a ton of attention and persuaded all who saw it that if they ever had a broken foot or other foot problem, they wanted one. Despite all the work and hassle of using it, Jennie also managed to maintain a positive attitude for the entire convention, which is quite amazing--and way better than I suspect I would have managed.

I mentioned yesterday that my friend, John Picacio, did not win the Artist Hugo. In the voting breakdown, which I read today, he led for the first two rounds of the strange Australian ballot voting system that cons use. (If you're interested, you can read more about it here.) I note this fact because it shows how important it is that those who vote for these awards fill in all the choices they care about.

By the way, please don't think I feel Donato Giancola does not deserve the award; I agree that he does. In fact, I think all the nominated artists did. I was just rooting for a friend.

I still have writing and work to do, so to it I go. Tomorrow, I travel home, a trip composed of lots of lines and waiting and small planes. I can hardly wait.

On the road again: Worldcon, Montreal, day 5

Last night, I went to bed late, but I got to sleep late--over eight hours! I awoke ready to sleep another sixteen, but I have to say that I felt better than I have in a while.

First stop of the con day was the art show, where we were pleased to see that Jain had sold some more pieces. Her balls of odd objects are amazing. I hope to post here some pictures of them sometime soon.

After a small and quick lunch, I headed to the first of my two, back-to-back, ninety-minute panels. This one was on the burning question of whether climate change is "storyable." After a quick and resounding "yes!" we ended up in a climate-change-science discussion dominated by two panel members; I was not one of them. I was glad to be able to escape a tad early.

My role in the next program item, the Baen Books slide show, was fortunately rather small. I spoke a few times about my current and upcoming work, helped editor Jim Minz a bit, and enjoyed the show.

We wedged a nice dinner between that item and the Hugos, then watched as many talented and good folks received their awards. I was sad that my pal, John Picacio, did not win the artist nod, but losing to Donato Giancola is nothing to be ashamed of.

This is my 800th blog post, and by coincidence it comes on a very bittersweet day. I've attended all but about half a dozen of the Worldcons since my first in Phoenix in 1978. I've gone to the Hugos at all of those cons. I've watched and wondered what it would be like to be a nominee, even a winner, and for a time early in my career I thought I might make it to that ceremony one day. I no longer think so, and I am saddened by that belief.

What's most important, though, and what I must constantly remind myself, is that none of this has any effect on what I do. Win or lose, nominated or not, I will get up and work and write the next day. The people that matter to me will still need me and care about me, and that is a great treasure indeed.

So, as I send my congratulations to all the Hugo winners and nominees, and as I confess publicly my deep and long-held desire to be among them, I also know that I will write today and tomorrow and every day, and I will do the best work I can, and the rest will happen as it will.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

On the road again: Worldcon, Montreal, day 4

I was sleepy enough this morning that I pushed my wake-up time to 11:18--which may sound luxuriously late but is far less so when you go to bed close to six in the morning. (The good part of staying up so late is that I was fully prepared for the writers' workshop session that Elizabeth Bear and I were leading.)

That two-hour affair went pretty well, with critiques that I believe delivered real value to the writers. I wish all three of them the best of luck with their future writing.

Other highlights of the day include some work, the masquerade, which was surprisingly strong, and then the fireworks show. As fortune would have it, the South African entry in the international fireworks competition was tonight at 10:00, so the convention arranged for a viewing from the rooftop cafe of the convention center. The show was beautiful and magical and included colors I've never seen in fireworks: multiple shades of orange, including a pumpkin-colored burst, raspberry, and several others. Sitting on a rooftop on a cool summer night watching fireworks is quite a treat indeed.

In the Hotel Intercontinental's bar tonight, Chesley winner, Hugo nominee, and friend, John Picacio, and I were discussing the way external forces can mess with your head. You can come to a convention as an artist or writer and never be recognized, and you can also come and have fans praise your work, win awards, and so on. The former end of the spectrum of recognition is brutally hard on your ego, and the latter can inflate it. In the end, though, neither matters, because you go home, and then you have to go to work. If you let any of that noise touch your work, then the work--and thus, you--will suffer for the distraction. The work is the thing, and I like never to forget that fact.


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