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What are friends for?

I don't really use LJ anymore, but I got a message from someone from my past. I tried to reply to it, and but they have privacy settings on so only mutual friends can message them. So, if they come here wondering why I added them, it's because I'm trying to reply.

Cryptic enough for you?
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I will be Old + 1

A quick post to let you know that The Horns of Ruin will be part of a front of store promotion in Barnes & Noble facilities across the country from November 30th through December 13th. It is also important to note that one of those days is my birthday.

Buy me a present. Specifically, buy a copy of the book on one of those days. Pretend that whatever day you pick is my birthday. If you already have a copy (OMG THANK YOU!) then buy a second copy and give it to a friend. Or you could just archive the second copy, and when I come to your pathetic town on my eventual world tour (dates pending and largely imaginary) you can have me sign this pristine first edition of The Horns of Ruin, and tell me Happy Birthday. You may even sing Happy Birthday, if you feel it is necessary.

Bringing me cake might be taking it too far. But I will allow it.
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Columbus is where the cool girls sing all night

So. WFC 2010. Good time.

I'm not going to give your typical con report, listing names and panels and whatnot. Mostly because I'm terrified of leaving people off, but also because I wasn't keeping a running checklist in my head and I'm kind of tired. Not firing on all cylinders. But I'm worried that if I don't get this report out there I'm going to start forgetting things. It took me forever last night to remember what I did on Saturday night for dinner, not because it wasn't an interesting meal, but because I had just gotten out of my car and was just pacing around the house trying to remember how to be a normal person. (Dinner was with Amy and Yonni and Richard, at the brewpub. I did remember eventually.)

I nearly didn't go this year. Horrible idea, not going. I've finally figured out that WFC isn't a business con for me anymore. There was stage where, professionally, WFC was the only convention that mattered. No longer true. But socially? Vital. Without WFC I'd be a hermit all year long, rather than all year minus four days. And those four days matter. Tremendously.

So, generally speaking, it was a great con. There are ways in which it was my best WFC yet, in the sense that I think I'm finally getting into the mode of being a writer. This is the first con in which people recognized me. Not just people whose job it is to know who I am, but completely random attendees stopping me in the hallway to ask questions about Heart of Veridon. This doesn't happen to me. Only, now it does.

On top of that, I feel like I'm getting to a point of recognition among the professionals in the industry. Two different people stopped me in parties to ask if they could take my picture, including Liza from Locus magazine. LOCUS. It's surreal. While walking through the Dealer Room, a lady from the next Worldcon handed me an invitation. It had my name on it? I realize it's just a sticker and a database, but it's a database that I'm in. It's all very strange.

People who know me know that I maintain a pretty low level of respect for my own work. It has something to do with standards, or just pushing myself to get better, but someone asked me to read something from the book that I liked, and I did, and my god. I liked doing that. I liked thinking, even briefly, that I was good at what I do. I'm not looking for compliments or affirmations or anything. I'm just saying. It was important to me.

So that's your con report. There were meetings in bars and at parties. I went to two panels and walked out of both of them because I would rather be talking to my friends. I have a bruise from shaking too many hands. I drank enough to not freak out socially, and little enough to not freak out socially, and never had a hangover. Every night I was up until 3:30.

And now I'm home, and I'm feeling pretty good. So thank you, everyone. And see you next year. In a bar.
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I said she said

I'm in that fever-dash at work prior to being out Thursday and Friday for World Fantasy Con, so forgive the recent silence. But there are many things going on, so here are a couple:

Over at, I've got a guest post about cyberpunk and steampunk. Or something. I'm sure I'm brilliant.

And Madhatter reviews The Horns of Ruin. I usually don't point to reviews because you get into dangerous self-editing, where you point to positive reviews and ignore negatives. This happens to be a fairly positive review, but it brings up something that's been bumping around in my head that I wanted to talk about.

For both Heart of Veridon and The Horns of Ruin, I get tagged for having flat secondary characters. This troubles me, simply because it's a bad thing, and I try to address bad things.

First off, I don't dispute it. I think a lot of it comes from the fact that I wrote both of these books in the first person, which was a new style for me when I wrote HoV, and so all the tools I had learned to get inside a character's motivation could no longer be applied to anyone other than Jacob. There were so many other things I was grappling with stylistically in that book, that I never really got around to developing new tools.

And I think the same thing dogged me in Horns. I won't get into the decision making process about PoV and which characters to follow, but I was hoping to be able to correct a lot of that "flatness" in this one. So that's something I'm still working on, I guess, but that's the nature of writing.

Anyway. Much work to do. I'm going to be doing that now.
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You know you're looking at me

There are people whose blogs I follow where I think "Man, you haven't posted in a week! What the hell's wrong with you!" And then I remember that you're lucky to get a post a month out of me. Again. Twitter. It takes all of me.

I've spent a lot of this year learning to be humble and thankful. I've had a lot of friends go through some pretty horrible stuff. I've had my own issues, but when you set them side by side it's a little silly to get bent up by these things. I'm a lucky guy, in a lucky situation. So I'm not writing full time. How many writers out there even manage publication. So Chicago isn't my ideal habitude. I'm here. So friendships don't always work out. I've got some pretty wonderful people in my life. So the writing isn't as good on the page as it is in my head. It's better than it was when I started.

Anyway. There's always a lot of bad static on these pages. I just wanted to be clear that I'm learning to live beyond the static. I'm learning to be up. It's a curious feeling.
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Since things have settled down in the sense that we're tired of moving things around so we've just stopped doing it, I'd like to say a little something about the house.

I like it.

Seriously, it's nice to live somewhere that you helped design. I've already got a list of things that I want to fix when we design the next house, silly stuff like we've over-lit most of the rooms, don't put your sump exhaust anywhere near your bedroom wall, and on and on. But I'm really pretty content. I sat on my deck this morning, drinking orange juice and enjoying the breeze off the pond. It's a good way to live.
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The Desolate Nature of the Business

Initial indications are that distribution for The Horns of Ruin will be quite good, and there are already some reviews showing up. I'm hopeful. And of course, all this talk of book releases brings up talk of signings in the Akers' household. I'm resistant to it. Wife and I were talking about this, and I was struggling to express how badly signings sit in my head. They're one of those things that I recognize as important to the business, but I really, really hate doing them.

Put it this way: we all know how socially crippled I am. I just don't deal with people, or groups of people, terribly well. I do okay in formalized settings. Panels seem to go okay, because then I'm performing and I have a set topic and if it goes badly I can just pick a fight. Purely intellectual.

But signings? Realistically it's just sitting at a table with a pen and a stack of books. But really? It's sitting at a table for three hours with a pen and no one who walks by will make eye contact with you like you're some kind of eye-borne disease, and there's this stack of books, but not just books but *your* book that you bled into and sweated over and crafted like your life depended on it because let's be serious, your life does depend on it. And eventually they let you go and you can crawl back into your hole and hope no one ever, ever, ever asks you to make eye contact with a stranger ever again. Never.

So that's why I don't like signings. But I recognize that they're important.
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The static is bad, out here in the Ring States

You're probably not going to hear from me much for a couple weeks. Or you may hear from me constantly, as I vent into the nether. Who knows.

But we close on the new house on Friday. Walk through is on Tuesday afternoon, so between the holiday and those events, I'm only at work two and a half days this week. And I'm INCREDIBLY busy in that time. So disappearing could occur. Please don't think that I'm ignoring you. I still care.

The next week is going to be about moving stuff in from the storage unit, and then next Friday we officially move from the rental to the new house. Exciting times.

Oh. And I have to write a book. I'm glamorous like that.
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I was walking the dog tonight...back up. We're staying in a rental house while our new one is being finished. We're only here for a couple months, and folks in the neighborhood don't really know what to make of us. Especially the kids. So.

I was walking the dog tonight. Really, just standing outside with her, because she's fifteen and "walking" tends to resemble standing and sniffing the wind. Anyway. There was a gaggle of kids down the street, and after we'd been standing there for a few minutes these kids come convoying towards us, an armada of clattering wheels and wobbly tires.

My mind was elsewhere, so I didn't focus on the conversation until they were a couple houses away. The first sentence I heard was "See, it's the boy. That one's the boy. The other one is the girl. I told you!"

And then there was much back and forth about the boy and the girl, and then they turned around in the street and went back to where they were.

So yeah. They don't know what to make of us. But this one's the boy.