michaeldthomas: (Default)
Yesterday, I escaped from the house in order to start the next round of revisions on The Scarlet Queen. I chose the B&N Cafe as my coffeehouse of the day. I've had some good writing sessions there over the last couple of months since it's pretty quiet.

Big mistake on this particular Sunday.

I had to sit down near the outlets (my battery is nearly dead on my laptop). Next to my table was a large group of boisterous geeks. They were talking about Doctor Who, World of Warcraft, Firefly, and Anime. I figured they were a gaming group or something.

I opened my document, put on my iPod, and began revising. 45 minutes later, I overheard one of them ask the group if they should free write to a writing prompt. I then noticed the reserved table tents.

This was an SF/F writing group.

For a moment, I became excited. Was this the local group I always wanted to join?

Four of the ten wrote for a few minutes as the others continued reading magazines, chatting, and sewing costumes. The four then read their finished paragraphs out loud after exclaiming how much their work sucked (they weren't wrong).

Without critique or commentary, the group then went back to chit chat, mostly about where to buy awesome Steampunk boots. That went on for the next hour.

While they did this, I revised two chapters.

I considered introducing myself, but I realized that I would come off as Victor Kennedy from "Love & Monsters." I would end up telling them that THEY WERE DOING IT WRONG. (Not to mention all of my unintentional obnoxious name dropping.)

I forgot to mention another reason why I write at B&N. From those tables, I can see the SF/F section. I can look up and view the novels and collections of my friends. That's my goal. This isn't a hobby. I'm writing because I must, but also because I want to share my stories with others and earn a little bit of money from the process.

Do these people want the same things? Perhaps a couple , but I doubt it for most of them. If this meeting was anything to go by, writing is just another geeky endeavor for them. It's an excuse to hang with your peeps and screw around on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

I don't begrudge them their hobby, but I'm in a place in my career where it rubs me wrong. Writing is hard work. A writing group should teach, help, and inspire. It should make you a better, more focused writer.

So, I didn't find my local writing group. Next week, it's back to the Caribou.
michaeldthomas: (Default)
Caitlin is on Summer Break until after Labor Day. Since this is coinciding with a massive heat wave, it looks like we'll be watching lots of DVDs this week.

We're starting with the Star Wars saga.

There's not much else going on around here. I'm working on a new short story, but it will difficult to write while watching Caitlin. Lynne is editingThe Scarlet Queen when she isn't working on Chicks Dig Comics or her mystery projects. With luck, I can start the next round of rewrites this weekend.

Caitlin has an appointment with her Pediatric Epileptologist on Wednesday. Her seizures have been under control (*knocksonwood*), so it should be fairly routine.
michaeldthomas: (Default)
No, I didn't quit LJ for Google +.

The last few weeks have been crazy busy. We had wonderful times at 4th Street Fantasy Conversation and CONvergence. We're only now just coming back to reality.

I would write con reports, but they would look like this:

1- We hung out with friends. Many of them are in the SF/F industry. :-)
2- We ate with friends. Mmm, food.
3- Drinking might have occurred, followed by gossiping, pontificating, and/or handstands.
4- We learned many secrets and got caught up in some small dramas (no permanent damage).
5- Lynne was magnificent. You should have seen her in that one dress.
6- Caitlin had a great time at my mom's.
7- We miss our friends. :-(

As we become more embedded in the community, there's just less and less I can talk about. It makes for a great life, but it's lousy for blogging.

Other than coming home to dead A/C (now fixed), everything else is fine. There should be a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT about my editor wife in a week or two (many of you already know what I'm talking about).

That's it for the next few weeks. Lynne is editing Chicks Dig Comics and working on the SF Squeecast. She should also be finished with The Scarlet Queen by the end of the week. Beta Readers should have it in two weeks.

We're pretty much ready for WorldCon.

Caitlin finishes Summer School this week. I'm working on a troublesome short story.

How are you?
michaeldthomas: (Default)
I did it. I revised my mid-grade fantasy novel, The Scarlet Queen. Since I'm sleeping with a Hugo-nominated editor, I figured she should take a look at it before I give it to my beta readers.

I know it isn't perfect, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't suck. :-)

In other news:

1- We're at 4th Street Fantasy Conversation this weekend. Friends! Drink! Literary Theory! Venting about the Industry! Hooray! :-)

Lynne's on two panels. I'm just watching. We expect good times.

2- Unless, the universe screws us. Last night, a squall line hit the Chicago suburbs with 80 mph winds. Hundreds of thousands of people are without power, including my mother and aunt. If they don't have power by late Thursday night, we might have to bring Cait with us.

3- It looks like I'll be able to go to WorldCon with Lynne. I guess I need a new suit. :-)

4- We went to a movie last weekend. We all really enjoyed X-Men: First Class-- especially Caitlin after I reminded her that having Aicardi syndrome meant she was also a Mutant. She's now waiting for her superpowers to kick in. Based on all of her giggling after the movie every time I said, "Boom!", she seems to want Havok's abilities. Mystique, however, is her favorite.

Caitlin totally wants a "Mutant and Proud" t-shirt. :-)

5- CONvergence is next week. We're really excited about Lynne's first GoH gig. More on that next week. :-D
michaeldthomas: (content)
So, what's going on with my writing career?

1- I'm still revising The Scarlet Queen (my mid-grade fantasy novel with a little girl protagonist with severe disabilities and a weird, mythic America). I'm 2/3 of the way through the revision. It doesn't suck. I should be able to pass it to [livejournal.com profile] rarelylynne before the end of the month.

After she looks at it and I perform another round of tweaks, it's off to my beta readers. :-)

2- I have 4 short stories out on the market. I have high hopes for two of them. The other two are running out of pro/semi-pro markets.

3- As I mentioned in my brief WisCon wrap-up, I had the opportunity to hang with my peers during the con. Once again, I can't stress how important it was to talk to people going through the same struggles. It really reenergized me. I feel better knowing that I'm not walking this path completely alone.

4- I have a handshake deal for a possible SEKRIT Project. I can't go into details about that for awhile. I've had a few of these fall through before, but I think this one will happen.

5- A new novel is percolating in the back of my mind.

WisCon 2011

Jun. 1st, 2011 09:28 pm
michaeldthomas: (Default)
I had a great time. I finally listened to [livejournal.com profile] tim_pratt and [livejournal.com profile] matociquala and skipped the whole being-a-panelist thing. I felt a 1000 times less stressed out. At this stage in my career, I just don't get a lot out of being a panelist anymore. I'm also not a great fit for WisCon panel culture.

Instead, I hung out with my friends, met some new people, went to parties, and ate at fantastic restaurants.

I now have too many friends to make shout-outs. However, I miss all of you.

As you can read from [livejournal.com profile] rarelylynne and Sigrid Ellis, the Whedonistas' party was a monster success. I'm very proud of it. We all worked very hard to make it special.

Now we can try to top it next year with the Chicks Dig Comics' party. :-)

One of the most important things I did was spend time with my peer group. Living in crazy Lynne World means I sometimes forget that I'm not the only writer working hard to make his or her first big sale. My peers help me have a proper perspective. Also, they're awesome.

Next up, 4th Street Fantasy.
michaeldthomas: (content)
After a few doom and gloom posts, I decided it was time for a shiny happy post.

1- I finally scheduled a physical for myself. It's about 2 years overdue. I feel great, but it's time. My only issue is a small spot of uneven pigmentation on my face. It's probably just part of aging, but I want a doctor to verify that it's nothing serious.

2- I have 4 short stories on the market. I'm very happy with my most recent story after receiving some quality critiques. I think I fixed most of its issues. *fingerscrossed*

3- I'm finally revising The Scarlet Queen (my mid-grade fantasy novel). It's slow-going, but I should be finished by CONvergence. Now all I need is a critique partner who specializes in mid-grade fantasy. :-)

4- All of our WisCon plans are solidifying. The Whedonistas party is going to rock. It's going to be nice to hang out with so many of our peeps. Hooray!

5- We loved "The Doctor's Wife." It's now my favorite story of the Smith/Moffat era.

6- The SF Squeecast will premiere in the next couple of weeks.

7- The first batch of Chicks Dig Comics essays came in without any major drama. Lynne and Sigrid are pleased.

8- We have great friends. Thanks for all of the support. :-)
michaeldthomas: (Caitlin 10)
1- Caitlin had more seizures on Friday. We didn't have to use her emergency Diastat, but we now know she's definitely back on that monthly seizure schedule. On the plus side, it's still only one bad day a month. On the minus side, they're still massive seizures. Caitlin's Epileptologist/Neurologist increased her Sabril in response. Thank the maker that Sabril is now FDA-approved. That would have been a financial disaster two years ago.

2- Since I didn't have to use Diastat, I spent the whole day hovering over her and watching every twitch and movement. Lynne came home early to help. Yeah, we've had better days.

This colored our whole weekend. Once the crisis ended, we had plenty of time to process and be miserable-- especially once Caitlin went to bed each evening. This is why we fill our lives with work and distractions. It's very hard to watch our little girl go through the epilepsy and pain. It's tough when we stop long enough to think about Caitlin's future. We know that her best days are very likely already behind her.

3- On a cheerier note, crazy doors are opening for Lynne left and right. It seems that every time she completes an awesome project, two more take its place.

4- I'm revising this week. Along with my mid-grade fantasy novel, I'm working on my most recent short story. Most of my crit partners have sent me their notes. Now I just need to work up the courage to read them. :-)

5- The one good thing that happened on Friday came in the mail. We spent the weekend consuming our Kinda and Snakedance DVDs. We still love the hell out of those stories. We also picked up a copy of Sunday in the Park with George on CD. Now that I'm in my mid-30s, I'm really learning to appreciate Sondheim.
michaeldthomas: (Default)
We had an amazing time at Odd Con. Since we were surrounded by good friends (too many to list), it was essentially a Relaxacon for us. We had many great conversations and meals. As always, Odd Con also had a great BarCon. It's the perfect way to kick off the convention season.

Caitlin behaved for Grandma all weekend. :-)

Last night we popped into The City for a lovely dinner with [livejournal.com profile] yuki_onna at Harold's Chicken. It was nice to see her outside of a convention or signing. I wish we lived closer to her.

After a week of shop talk, I need to bear down and revise my mid-grade fantasy novel. I also need to revise my new short story, but that can wait until I have some more feedback from my beta readers.

Everything else going on around here is SEEKRIT. We can't wait for some of these things to go public. :-D
michaeldthomas: (Default)
Since I can't do much until UPS delivers Cait's meds, I thought I would blog. Let's see if LJ stays up while I type this.

1- This weekend we'll be at Odyssey Con in Madison. [livejournal.com profile] rarelylynne and I are only scheduled for the Whedonistas panel on Friday. Lynne will be doing her SF/F Archivist thing (we'll pick up boxes, DVDs, or flash drives if you have them). I'll be hanging out with our friends. This should be a nice, low-key weekend.

This con will also be our friend [livejournal.com profile] truepenny's first GoH gig. If you can, come and support her.

2- That's my only panel for the next few cons. I decided that I'm too burned out to be on any WisCon or CONvergence panels this year. I need to work more on my writing career before I feel comfortable again up on a panel. Also, Lynne really needs me to focus on being her assistant at those cons.

3- It looks like the Whedonistas WisCon party might involve Mai Tais and a Buffy Sing-Along. Good times. :-)

4- My poor wife is BURIED in projects. We really don't think about it until somebody asks us about what she's up to. Then we talk about her normal work stuff, co-teaching her class for another university, a SFWA project, the Whedonistas launch, co-editing Chicks Dig Comics, writing something for a friend's book, writing an essay for another couple of friends' book, writing an essay for a journal, working on the least SEEKRIT SEEKRIT PROJEKT podcast ever, and chairing the Tiptree Jury.

And yet, she still somehow finds time to be an exquisite mother and wife. :-)

5- The Bridging the Rift Doctor Who Podcast features Lynne reading her Tor.com essay about the 11th Doctor. Flames Rising is running the Introduction from Whedonistas for free on their website.
michaeldthomas: (Default)
Slowly but surely, [livejournal.com profile] rarelylynne's SEEKRIT PROJECTS are becoming public. She is wicked excited about Chairing the next Tiptree Award jury. It's an amazing group of jurors (Karen Meisner, James Davis Nicoll, Tansy Roberts, and Nisi Shawl). They've been setting things up over the last couple of days. It looks like Lynne has some reading to do over the next few months. :-)

If you know of an SF/F book or story that you think "expands or explores our understanding of gender" from this year or the last few months of last year, please email your recommendation to the jury at nominate@tiptree.org. That's one of the ways they discover these gems.

#

The Whedonistas's launch went well. The publisher is pleased with the sales, and the reviews are positive. It looks like we're having a launch party at WisCon. Now all we need to do is plan it. :-)

In case you're curious, here are all of the Whedonistas's reviews:
Reviews )
#
Caitlin's Spring Break is over, so it's back to the writing mines for me. I need to revise a short story this week.
michaeldthomas: (Default)
1- We had a lovely time with our friend, SF/F author Alex Bledsoe, last week. Alex was down for a Friends of the NIU Libraries/DeKalb Public Library event. He finally got to meet Caitlin while we ate German food and talked shop. The event went very well. The SF Book Club loved The Sword-Edged Blonde, and everybody consumed delicious cupcakes.

I love when our author peeps come to visit. Which brings me to...

2- [livejournal.com profile] sarah_prineas will be here tonight and tomorrow for the NIU Children's Literature conference. It will be very nice to see Sarah. Along with being an awesome friend, she's also Caitlin's FAVORITE AUTHOR. Caitlin loves her books more than the Harry Potter series. We've been bribing Cait all week with Friday's dinner.

3- Whedonistas will be out next week. [livejournal.com profile] rarelylynne and Deb Stanish have been busy with interviews and other book launch activities. Some of the contributors are having a book launch event in NYC. There should be a review of the book in the current SFX Magazine in the UK, but we haven't seen it yet.

4- The new short story is starting to roll. I should finish it next week.

5- Since I started exercising in January, I've lost 10 pounds.
michaeldthomas: (Default)
Some person is eBaying their story "idea" for a starting price of $3,000.00.

I love this quote from Victoria Strauss in Writer Beware:

"Ideas aren't worth anything. It's only their expression that has value. This is why ideas aren't protected by copyright: they are the basic building blocks of creative endeavor, and as such must be available for anyone to use. Give a dozen writers a single idea, and you'll wind up with a dozen different novels of a dozen different qualities, each of which might or might not find publication, depending on a wide variety of factors and variables."

Yup. It's all about the implementation.
michaeldthomas: (Default)
It was an average weekend. I missed most of the Super Bowl while dealing with a broken washing machine. It seems that the timer or kill switch crapped out (the cycles no longer advance). The Maytag man will be out on Thursday. At least most of our laundry is clean.

Other than that, the highlight was watching the second Doctor story The Dominators. Sweet Zombie Jesus, that's an awful story. It's probably the most boring and insipid tale in Doctor Who history. Even the documentaries focused on why it sucked like a sucking thing. I have trouble thinking of anything nice to say. Why did the universe save this story while junking most of The Evil of the Daleks and The Web of Fear?

I need to write. I think I have my characters and plot for the new short story, but I need to research some things.
michaeldthomas: (Default)
The title sums up our week. DeKalb ended up with about 16 inches of snow. We kept our power. The worst seems to be that our Internet has been wonky in the evening. [livejournal.com profile] rarelylynne and I shoveled about half of our driveway and a kind neighbor used a snowblower to finish the job. Other than Lynne and Caitlin getting two days off, the storm was pretty uneventful. Basically we just spent two day watching Hercules, Xena, and Robin of Sherwood episodes (Caitlin is on a fantasy kick).

Some other news and notes for the week:

1- Cheryl Morgan sums up why I mentioned that Chicks Dig Time Lords is eligible for a Hugo Award in the Best Related Work category.

2- About a dozen reviewers now have PDF ARCs of Whedonistas.

3- Gallifrey One is only two weeks away. I'm not on any panels. To put it bluntly, I'm kind of tired of doing Doctor Who panels (especially now that my DW writing project is on indefinite hiatus). I've said just about everything I can say about the show, and I think the world can survive one less middle-aged white guy giving his opinions about the series. I would rather just relax, hang out with friends, and fanboy my wife. :-)

4- I didn't write much this week, but I submitted a couple of short stories (one for the first time). That gives me three currently on the market. I also have a new story percolating in my brain.
michaeldthomas: (Default)
We're having our first major cold snap of the season. They had to send a second school bus for Caitlin this morning after the first one's lift broke.

News and notes from our week:

1- Caitlin continues to improve. She's still very sore, but she went to school every day this week. She's also tolerating the extra physical therapy. Hooray!

2- We're about to send out PDF review copies of Whedonistas to a bunch of magazines and websites. There should be some reviews in the wild before the Gallifrey One book launch.

3- Lynne's Seekrit Projects are still Seekrit (but EXCITING).

4- I'm rewriting a weird fantasy short story I put aside last May. I still hate reading critiques of my work, but my readers definitely help me improve my writing.

It's nice to be working again after a month of Cait's medical stuff.

5- I've been watching the new PBS documentary series about the history of NASA. It's good, but I wish they could go into greater depth. As always, I'm amazed we didn't kill more astronauts during the 60s.
michaeldthomas: (Caitlin 10)
1- Hey, Chicks Dig Time Lords made the long list for the 2010 British Science Fiction Association Best Non-Fiction Award. That means at least one person put it down on their ballot. Cool beans!

2- As most of you saw yesterday on Facebook and Twitter, Caitlin had her first Physical Therapy session yesterday. We had low expectations. Caitlin, however, had a different plan. First, she independently sat on the floor for the first time since the surgery. Next, she stood on her right leg with minimal assistance. Essentially, Cait displayed all of the abilities she had before the surgery. Considering that she's still recovering from having her hips altered only a month ago, we're very impressed. Cait's PT was flabbergasted. Caitlin's still in some pain, but it seems that she will completely bounce back from this surgery in only a couple of months.

3- Lynne, Deb, and I spent the last few days finding and contacting as many geek culture websites as possible about reviewing Whedonistas. It's amazing how many Girl Geek websites and podcasts exist. There's even going to be a GeekGirlCon in Seattle this year. Quite a few of them have already agreed to take a copy of the book.

If you have a suggestion of a cool review site that might be interested in Whedonistas, please let us know. :-)
michaeldthomas: (content)
I did pretty well with last year's goals. Here are some goals for 2011:

1- Try to be a good father, husband, and friend.

2- Try to take better care of myself. I'm becoming sedentary in my middle age. The scale hasn't changed much in ten years, but I look thicker in the middle. My family has a history of heart disease and my daughter isn't getting any smaller. Therefore, it's time to start exercising each day for at least 30 minutes. I have the time; I just need to do it.

If anybody has any suggestions for a good at-home routine, feel free to leave a link. Right now I'm just doing the stretching and calisthenics I remember from high school gym class.

3- Here are my writing goals:

Revise my short story "Virus."
Submit "Virus" and continue submitting "Pediatric Wards" and "Nostalgia Trips" until they get published or I exhaust all of the markets.
Revise The Scarlet Queen (this will include sending it to readers and a second set of revisions).
Query agents for The Scarlet Queen.
Write at least two new short stories.
Begin writing the new novel.
Work on the new nonfiction project.

4- Continue my work as [livejournal.com profile] rarelylynne's PA.

That seems like a reasonable list. Wish me luck! :-)
michaeldthomas: (Default)
Not much going on around here. Caitlin and I are hanging out watching Christmas specials on PBS while Lynne braves the latest snowfall in order to procure some things for baking.

This holiday feels like a mixed bag. Cait feels great, but she still can't travel. This means that the first Christmas since my grandfather's passing will also be without the rest of my family. If the weather behaves, my mom might be coming out for Christmas day.

In Thomas family periodical news, Lynne is featured in an article about happiness in the current Smith Alumnae Quarterly. Her department is also featured in the NIU Alumni Magazine this month in an article about their pop-up book collection.

I sneaked into [livejournal.com profile] shsilver's Hugo-nominated fanzine Argentus for the fourth time. He asked me for a short article since he had some extra space next to a short piece by Connie Willis. I turned it in at 3 pm on the 22nd and the 'zine appeared 4 hours later. We live in the future. :-)

Argentus #10 features articles and art by James Bacon, Sheryl Birkhead, Michael A. Burstein, John DeNardo, Alex Eisenstein, Rhonda Eudaly, Alexis Gilliland, Anne Gray, Brian Gray, Steve Green, Mark Herrup, Rich Horton, Dan Kimmel, Mark Leeper, Rich Lynch, Jim Mann, Pierre Pettinger, Robert Rede, Mike Resnick, William Rotsler, Marah Searle-Kovacevic, Steven H Silver, Steve Stiles, Michael D. Thomas, Connie Willis, delphyne wood, and Leah Zeldes.

You can find it here.
michaeldthomas: (Default)
This post is mostly for my own benefit. In July 2007, I decided to focus on becoming a writer. I first tried to become a writer between the ages of 16-24. I was pretty half-assed at the time, completing only a handful of poems, stories, and scripts. For the next eight years, life took over. I worked and cared for Caitlin and threw myself into my advocacy work. By 2007, I was burning out. Also, Lynne and I were attending SF conventions for her Rare Books' job. After meeting some writers and going to numerous writing panels, I realized that I wanted to write again.

The seeds were especially planted during a Worldbuilding panel at Odd Con. After hearing Joan Vinge, Pat Rothfuss, E.E. Knight, and Sarah Monette talk about their processes, I resurrected some old ideas of my own. Three months later, I started writing a novel.

So, what have I accomplished in the last 40 months?

1 post-apocalyptic coming-of-age fantasy novel (100,000 words, 2 revisions)
1 mid-grade fantasy novel (50,000 words)
9 short stories (40,000 words, numerous revisions)
Abandoned starts (10,000 words)

Total- about 200,000 words of fiction. That's an average of 5000 words a month.

As you can see, I'm not a very fast writer. Still, not too shabby considering I'm still Cailin's full-time caregiver and I lost both of my grandparents during that time period. Plus, I'm not including all of my nonfiction work. That's easily another 100,000 words of writing and 1,000,000 words of editing.

Here's some other writing business notes:

Short Story Submissions (since 2/2009): 41
Rejections- 39 (13 personalized)
Anthology Invites- 1

Workshops- 1
Writers' Group- 1 (I made it to 2 meetings)
Critiques for Others- 29

Overall, I'm proud of what I've accomplished. :-)

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