Worldcon

My first convention of any sort was last weekend. It was AWESOME! I’m not sure how but I’ve never been to one before but I’m glad that Worldcon was my first. Worldcon was in Spokane a few years ago and I remembered thinking then that I probably should go check it out but never did. So when I found out that it was going to be in San Jose this year I immediately made plans to go.

I was able to convince my fellow science fiction and fantasy nerd friend from work, Derrick Seiner, to go and then my friends Doug and Jess said they were down and we were on our way. Jess is an amazing artist and she has been gracious enough to work on some Harbingers maps and drawings for me, all of which are amazing. When I did The Brainery online workshop she even let me use one of her paintings for my cover and I now have the original hanging in my geek room. I hope to use her maps and artwork in Harbingers some day soon. IMG_3605.jpg

By some awesome chance of fate the Anthology, Alternative Theologies, which has my first ever published story was also going to be sold at the B Cubed Press table at the convention. There was a snafu with shipping so I ended up bringing the only copy of the book but it was so awesome to meet some of the other authors and editors, like Phyllis Irene Radford and David Gerrold and get them to sign my copy of the book. I also got to meet and hang out with the crew/family that helps Bob Brown make B Cubed Press so fantastic; Cheyenne Brown, Nathan Ockerman, and their daughter Eden/Hermione.

I’ve got a ton of stories from the convention and a few pictures to boot but I’ll just share some of my favorite moments here on Cuppa. The convention started off with a loooong line to get our badges. It was fun to see some familiar faces and chat with people as we made our way up to get setup. I found out that one of the things that you do at Worldcon is collect Ribbons. IMG_3606I ended up with a nice variety but I saw some people walking around with nearly a hundred attached to their badge. The only one I regret not finding was a Star Wars themed one that said Rebel Scum. I’m still sad I never found the person handing them out.

My favorite ribbon is the one with the feather that I got from Becky Chambers. She had an amazing panel with her mom Nikki Chambers, who is an Astrobiologist, on how to consult with scientists when writing Science Fiction. So when I saw she was doing a signing, even though I hadn’t read any of her books (I currently can’t put down The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet) I bought a copy of Wayfarers #1 and had her sign it. I asked if she had any ribbons for her books and she made me answer what my favorite starship is and why I would want to fly around on it (Millenium Falcon because I would get to go on awesome Star Wars adventures). Now that I’m almost done with her book I know the meaning of the feather and it makes it that much more awesome.

The ribbon with the craziest story is the In Loteria We Trust. The first night, after Derrick and I had got our badges and checked out the opening ceremony. We headed back to our hotel room trying to figure out what to do. Right next to our room there was a suite, with a door open and an obvious party going on inside. Derrick went and peeked in and saw that it was Worldcon related and so I also went and peeked in. We were then hurried inside by the catering crew who were setting up a giant spread of delicious food.

We didn’t know anyone but we had our Worldcon badges so everyone was super nice and friendly. Naturally we made our way to the dresser in the second room of the suite that was filled with bottles of liquor. I went and got some ice while Derrick chatted with a fellow we had seen on our flight from Seattle. As we were filling our cups, expecting to be kicked out of this obviously exclusive party, I looked in the corner of the room and saw none other than George R.R. Martin.

I naturally freaked out and didn’t go say hello like I wanted to. It was early enough in the party that he wasn’t surrounded by a gaggle of people yet but Derrick and I didn’t want to make assess of ourselves spluttering over how much we love Game of Thrones. But we stayed and met tons of great people and had several adult beverages while George R.R. Martin sat in the corner about 10 feet away from us, holding court like Jon freakin Snow or something. It was one of the highlights of our trip.

My favorite part of Worldcon was getting to meet the authors and get books signed. I came back with 20 new books. But getting my first edition, first printing of Old Man’s War signed by Scalzi was my favorite moment of the convention. He immediately recognized that it was one of the 3700 first printings and tried to talk me out of having it personalized. He said that when he died in a dolphin incident that it would be worth more if it just had his signature. I didn’t care and asked him to personalize it anyway.

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There were so many great panels and the Star Wars ones were some of my favorites. I even bumped into the Senior Editor of Star Wars fiction, Jennifer Heddle, after a panel and told her how much I love all the new Star Wars books. One of my goals as a writer and as a human being is to write for Star Wars in some capacity. So I hope to meet Jennifer Heddle again someday.

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Besides the convention we went and checked out the Winchester Mystery House. It was cool but super touristy.

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This is me with Doug and Jess in the couryard of the Winchester House.

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Crazy bird fountain selfie!IMG_3572

(It’s 220,000 square feet total with all the buildings on the estate)

We ate lots of delicious food in San Jose and I was really surprised how much I liked the city itself, it had a great vibe. Of course one night when we went out to meet Bob, Irene, and the B Cubed crew there was a Harry Potter pub crawl going on. Naturally Newt Scamander was there.

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There was a ton of cool artwork and costumes and cosplay going on at the convention so naturally I had to get a picture with Han Solo frozen in Carbonite.

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The convention wrapped up for us on Sunday night with the Hugo awards and we flew back Monday. Well we tried to fly back but smoke and the fires currently blazing all across the Pacific Northwest had other plans, but we eventually made it home.

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I can’t wait to go to more conventions and to another Worldcon. I met so many great new people and the community was so friendly and welcoming. I hope one day to attend when I’m a nominee and not just a fan. I felt really inspired and motivated to keep on writing and grinding, so I think I’ll do just that.

The Road So Far

My first published story comes out tomorrow and I’m amazed that I can actually now say that I’m a published author. It’s been quite the journey over the past 9 years since I decided that I wanted to be a speculative fiction writer. As with many things in my life I found that it’s not necessarily about what you know it’s about who you know and I’m happy to say that I know a small press publisher.

Bob Brown has been very encouraging ever since I told him that I was writing a YA Science Fantasy book. He has enthusiastically told me to submit stories for each of the books he has published. Somehow my story, “Temple Tantrum,” was accepted and I’m still over the moon about it.

Alternative Theologies is the third in the Alternative series (all published by B Cubed Press) and the lineup of writers and contributors that my story is included with is nothing short of amazing. I feel very much in awe of the awesome storytellers that my tale about what it might be like if Jesus returned to modern times gets to be included along side.

I’m not used to this whole being published thing. I finished the first draft of Harbingers a few years ago and have been working on revision ever since. It’s been a slow process but I’ve kept at it and just recently submitted to short stories and a novella version of Harbingers to publishers. They were, as I expected, all soundly rejected. Being rejected is part of publishing though so I took it in stride and kept on writing and revising.

I’ve dabbled in short stories, mainly with a few of my Harbingers characters, but I’ve tried my hand at writing and submitting a few for B Cubed’s Anthologies and “Temple Tantrum” was somehow accepted. I still can’t quite believe I’m setting up author pages on Amazon and Goodreads. I’m even working on setting up a signing at the local bookstore Adventures Underground.

I would also like to give a special shout out to Derrick and Brie Seiner for reading and providing excellent feedback on everything I write. Most importantly, I definitely could not keep writing without the love of support of my amazing wife Ellie Allen Cook. One of the most amazing things she has ever done for me was to look me straight in the eye, shake her head yes and say “Yeah, of course,” when I asked her if she could believe it that I had actually sold a story and would be published author. I can’t wait to keep on writing and getting better at story telling.

Please go check out Alternative Theologies and give it a read. I will be at Worldcon, my first writing convention, August 16th through August 20th. Bob Brown and B Cubed Press will have a table at the convention, I will gladly sign your book if you have a copy and enjoy my story enough to want a signature.

No April Foolin’

Spring has officially arrived in the Tri-cities. Along with spring Camp Nano and the Hugo nominees have arrived. I’m attending my first writing convention with my co-worker this year. It’s WorldCon in San Jose and I’m pretty damn excited. One of the most exciting things about going to WorldCon, other than potentially meeting a bunch of awesome folks in the publishing industry, is that we get to vote on the Hugo awards and go to the awards ceremony. Along with Camp Nano, I’m going to start making my way through as many of the nominees for the Hugo’s that I can before we have to vote. Oh yeah we get to vote on the awards too! I’ll post a list of all the nominee’s and then start tracking what I’m reading and watching and blogging about.

My goals for April are to blog every day, write every day, and read or watch something from the Hugo awards list every day. I’ve officially listed book 2 of the Harbingers series as my Camp Nano novel but I’m also going to work as much as possible on book 1 revision. My plan is to have the first 30-40k words on Harbingers book 1, a query letter, a synopsis, and some art work and maps ready to try and give to agents or publishers at WorldCon. I’m not even sure if that’s how it works but I guess I’ll find out. My friend, who is doing the artwork for my books, and her husband will, also be at the convention along with another writer friend from work, so we should have some fun and have people to hang out with.

The book club my buddy and I who are going to WorldCon is going strong. We have our meeting for our 4th book here in a few weeks and we might assign a nominee or two as books to read. There’s lots of awesome things to read and I’m very much looking forward to it. That’s all for now, time to go revise some more and then watch a Hugo nominated episode of Black Mirror.

Ready Player 2018?

2017 wasn’t too bad to live through and it sure seemed to go pretty quickly (I’ll be 36 in April and the years just seem to go by quicker the older I get). After 11 days of a nice little staycation where I left my house as little as possible, but didn’t have to work for the holidays, 2018 is upon us. Other than politics, which 2017 at least helped me learn I need to pace myself in consuming certain types of media, the year went fairly well. I did get some decent work in on my Novel revision during my time off, I’ve got a good path forward, and powered through the chapter I was stuck on writing. But overall working on revision and writing in general was lacking in 2017. 2018 has plenty of opportunities for success in it and I plan on journaling more, blogging more, and writing and revising much much more!

My wife and I sold our first house and bought our 2nd in 2017. Moving sucks in general but it especially sucks when you’ve just bought a new house and have 5 days to get your old one ready to sell. It was quite a hectic few months in the fall but we got moved in and are now nice and settled. Our five dogs are doing much better in a .35 acre yard as opposed to a .17 acre yard. Having a shorter commute is also fantastic, but has definitely cut into my audiobook listening time. Oh well. Changes are a foot at work with a new assignment but Hanford treats me well so I can’t complain.

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My wife and I saw this Icelandic tradition where you give books on Christmas eve and then hang out, read, and drink hot coco then rest of the evening. So we decided to partake and start it up in our family. Much to my surprise and delight she got me Ready Player One. Not only that but she got me a signed first edition copy. Getting a signed copy of Ready Player One was a hell of a way to start of this new tradition. Good luck topping this next year! We’ve added a stipulation moving forward that books for this new tradition should be signed (I got her a signed Joe Hill, Horns book) since both of ours were. I read almost half of RPO that first evening and had a hard time putting it down until I had finished it. I love this book so much! The movie comes out in March and I know its going to be different than the book but I’m still freaking stoked anyway. 2017 was apparently the year where I re-read a ton of books. I’ve just recently started up a book club to help find new authors so I don’t think I’m going to re-read as much in 2018 but I wouldn’t be surprised if I read RPO again after the movie.

My goal for 2017 was 40 books and I finished 28. Not quite where I want it to be but I’m going to set it at 40 again for 2018 and hopefully hit the goal this year. 2017 was definitely the year of the re-read for me. The books I re-read in 2017: Dune, Harry Potter books 2, 3, and 4, Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear and Ready Player One. I even ended up reading Name of the Wind twice in 2017 because they released the 10th anniversary edition at the end of the year. In 2017 I also got 3 books deep into The Expanse, tried out Terry Pratchett for the first time, read a new Crichton novel for the first time in a long time, and continued to read the Jim Butcher Furies and Dresden series. I also read quite a few Star Wars books, with Thrawn by Timothy Zahn being the best. I also made sure to read some comics in the form of Rat Queens and Calvin and Hobbes.

I started a book club with my buddy at work in late 2017. We’re looking for new authors and stories to read and decided to start with some Hugo Award winners. We’ve only read one book so far, The Fifth Season, but we’ve got a nice long list of potentials to be read and a goal to meet monthly. I’m currently finishing up our second entry, Blackout, for our book club and it’s interesting so far.

I also won this awesome Kindle Fire tablet through The Portalist that had 10 YA Sci-Fi Fantasy novels on it and got through several of those. I’ve been making myself use my e-readers more and I’m definitely getting used to it, but still prefer an actual book. It’s nice having options though, especially for travelling. Speaking of travelling, 2018 has some potential good times lined up. We also had some good R&R in Kauai this year, I got my tweet shown on the fan photos on the Mariner’s broadcast while at Waimea Canyon and it was so epic! I’m planning a 10th anniversary trip with my wife that may take us to Canada or maybe somewhere a little more tropical, we haven’t decided.

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I’’ve decided I’m going commit to going to at least one writing convention this year. I need to coordinate with my writing friend at work, Bob Brown. He has a new anthology out of political speculative fiction stories, Alternative Truths and More Alternative Truths. Go check them out they’re a lot of great stories. If things go as planned 2018 could be big for my writing so networking sooner rather than later is going to be a good way to make sure things keep moving forward with Harbingers. I’m considering some projects for the blog to help with a regular writing schedule, it’s good to just write everyday that I can. More to come! That’s all I’ve got for now, I’m going to be utilizing Cuppa more this year and possibly even upgrading my blog, so expect to hear from me more. I’m considering posting chapters of Harbingers on the blog if it’s upgraded.

Blog! What Blog? Harbingers first draft finished.

Well it has been a little while since I’ve posted, a little over three months, and I haven’t forgotten about blogging, I’m just lazy. I have been keeping busy writing though. I finished the first draft of Harbingers of Magic a few months ago and while this is a huge milestone for me personally, the work is only beginning.

I have never written anything nearly this long before (or taken this long to write something, it took almost four years), the first draft came in at almost 84k words, 48 chapters, and 245 pages. Writing a novel is an intimidating prospect even for seasoned authors. Seeing as I had never even thought about writing a book, or making a career out of it, until my late 20’s, I’m so excited that I was able to follow through and complete the first draft.

It was a short lived victory though, I took about a week off from writing and have been hitting revision hard ever since. I’m 1/3 of the way through the first revision and have added a couple thousand words overall (while removing many more thousands). Probably more important is that I have started correspondence with my Alpha readers. I have been talking with co-workers and friends about the book and helping me as an Alpha reader for quite a while so it was really exciting to email them and lay out a timeline for when I would have a draft ready for them to read.

I was at first going to revise the whole book and send it to them but I’m at a point in revision where I’m adding in a big new section of at least 10k words and I’m happy with how the first third of the book reads so I’m looking to send that to my Alpha readers this weekend. So far I have only had a couple people read my work (my wife and BFF), so the prospect of now 9 new people all of the sudden reading and critiquing me is intimidating, but I know in the long run it will greatly help my book be the best it can possibly be. My goal is to have the entire first revision to my Alpha readers by the end of 2015. If you are interested in becoming an Alpha or Beta reader please email me at Harbingersofmagic@gmail.com

I have also been working with my friend Jessica Campbell, who is an absolutely amazing artist, on some maps for Aeden. I’m so excited to work with her, if you want to take a look at her artwork it can be found here, http://www.jessi-campbell.com/. She just moved to Portland and I hope I can hang out with her and her husband Doug more now that they are a little closer to the Tri-Cities.

To go along with writing I have also been trying to keep up on my reading, but my pace has slowed down some from the beginning of the year. I’m about seven books behind on blog posts so I will try to get those up soon, but I think I can reach my goal of reading 40 books this year no problem. That’s all I have for now, the weather is changing to be cooler and the days are getting shorter, which means the hoodies are starting to come out (one of my favorite parts about cooler weather). Keep reading, keep writing, and keep warm!

Friends Re-Watch: Season 1, Episode 3: “The One With the Thumb”

Episode 1×03 “The One With the Thumb”

Ross discovers the fate of his childhood pet, Chichi. Chandler starts smoking again; when the group complains, he diverts their attention to their own faults. Phoebe gets money she doesn’t want; she complains and gets more; she gives it away and gets a can of soda in return… which contains a thumb. The beverage company gives her $7000. Monica’s new boyfriend (Alan) is a hit with her friends, but Monica’s not too sure.

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Overall thoughts:  Chandler smoking.  Joey’s actually a pretty good actor. Aww the dog.  Alan!  Subtle 90’s dick jokes. LOL.  The softball game is pure gold.  Chandler’s covert smoking made me laugh, but not as much as his super dated computer.  Phoebe is such a gem!  Joey’s hair looks gross.  Monica’s outfits continue to be horrib…bly on trend for 1994.

This is kind of a bland episode, with a few bright spots. The Alan plot was pretty funny, but the bit went on too long. Not my favorite episode so far, although I did love Phoebe’s plot with the thumb and magical money.

Best joke:

The breakup conversation Monica has with the gang when she tells them she’s breaking up with Alan.

Monica: I’ll meet someone else! There’ll be other Alans!

Or

Ross: “Yeah. He could row like a Viking.”

Grade:  B-

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Overall thoughts: Ohhh Chandler’s going to smoke, he loves it so much but knows its so bad for him. Chandler and Monica have pretty good chemistry right off the bat too. That’s a sweet football phone, I feel like I had one or knew someone who did. Why does everyone have softball episodes, I remember Seinfeld had several of them through the years too. OMG Chandlers computer is so old and I wonder if you could smoke inside buildings still the first year of this show, since he was doing it in the coffee shop. Oh and there we get the title of the episode I couldn’t remember what it was referencing it took forever to get there, thumb in the soda! Okay I finally put 2 and 2 together and see that Iridium is the name of the restaurant Monica works at. The giant cordless phone is awesome. Only seven thousand dollars for a thumb in your soda?? People would sue for millions now a days. There is a lot of sitting around eating food, exactly what I like doing with my friends.

Best joke: “If only he were a woman (Chandler)” – Ross

Grade: C+

The least funny of the first three but still good.

Friends Re-Watch: Season 1, Episode 2: “The One With the Sonogram at the End”

Episode 1×02 “The One With the Sonogram at the End”

Description:  Ross finds out his ex-wife (Carol) is pregnant, and he has to attend the sonogram along with Carol’s lesbian life-partner, Susan. Ugly Naked Guy gets a thigh-master. Ross and Monica’s parents come for dinner, which stresses Monica out. Ross and Rachel console each other. Rachel returns the ring to Barry, who is much less upset about thebreak-up than expected.

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Overall thoughts:  Different Carol, same Susan. LOL.  Ugly Naked Guy!  Ross’s tie.  Now that there’s a baby involved, the stakes are higher for Ross. Comic relief from Joey eating the lasagna. Ross is the favorite child. Why do Monica’s parents hate her? I love that they hang out at a coffee shop and not a bar.  They changed Barry’s last name from Finkle to Farber. Good choice.

There were many Ross/Rachel moments in this episode that made me smile. I really enjoy their chemistry.  I thought the best part of this episode was when Ross, Susan, and Carol saw the baby for the first time on the sonogram.  I appreciated how well that scene balanced humor with a serious situation, something which Friends continuously does well during its entire run. This episode was not as funny as the pilot, but that’s probably because of the higher emotional stakes and more serious subject matter.

Best joke:

Carol: Is this a bad time?

Ross: No… it’s the stone age.

Grade:  B

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Overall thoughts: This episode is obviously about Ross finding out his lesbian ex-wife is pregnant with his baby, just typing that is funny. Rachel is the worst employee ever. Whoa,  its a different Carol and I love Ross is putting a display together for work, I want to do that! Monica is so OCD, Courtney Cox plays her so perfectly. First Ugly Naked Guy joke, Thigh Master eww. Joey is so much more himself this episode, in the pilot he seemed a little off. The  Geller’s Parents are introduced really early, I like them. Monica fat shaming has also started from when she was a teenager and chunky, Ross is such a golden child, on second thought I don’t like the elder Geller’s. Still the original Susan that I remember though, the Sonogram scene is so cringe worthy. Rachel’s ex-fiance is so douchey.

Best joke: “I’m the only one in here who…Stands erect.” – Ross

Paleontology joke hooray!

Grade: B+

Solid second episode, Ross is so hilarious and sad and mopey but can you really blame him. “When did it get so complicated” – Rachel. This show is so great.