Told You So

May 23, 2019

 

On April 28 I wrote a blog post predicting how Game of Thrones would end. And I mostly got it right. (Spoilers below!)

I figured the Iron Throne would be destroyed, figuratively if not literally (check and check.) I also figured the nature of how the Seven Kingdoms are governed would have to fundamentally change, with some combination of the survivors (good guys and bad) ruling as a council. While I did not get that exactly right, nor did I predict Bran’s ascension to the Wheelchair Throne, I feel as though I came pretty close. The Westeros elite arrived at something like their version of the Magna Carta and the monarchy is no longer hereditary. I feel like the finale definitely implied the Small Council having more power than it did during the previous reigns. So, I’m pretty pleased with how close I came. After all, I did spend three years writing a novel in a grimdark medieval fantasy world recently (more on that very soon, I promise!) and that comes with some finely honed plot instincts. 🙂

There have been a lot of dissatisfaction with this past season and I do agree that many of the elements felt rushed and many of the plotlines were left unresolved, but it was still a great show to watch and then to discuss around the water cooler as well as on the blog and social media. I’m thankful to everyone who was involved in creating the show that I’ve enjoyed for the past eight years or so. Kudos!

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End of Thrones

April 28, 2019

Like so many in our community, I’ve been a huge Game of Thrones fan over the years. I started watching the show having not read the books, and made the conscious choice to stay away from the books so they wouldn’t spoil the many great moments for me throughout the show. This, of course, is before such concerns became academic. 🙂

After having finished watching season 1 (and, still, having not read the books and avoided the spoilers) I predicted that, in the end, it’d be Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen who’ll team up, get together, and ultimately win control over the Seven Kingdoms. Over the years, I rather enjoyed patting myself on the back as the prediction seemed to coalesce into a stronger and stronger possibility. But now, with only a handful of episodes remaining and on the eve of the Battle of Winterfell episode which is likely to kill off a number of major characters, I’d like to revise my prediction to something seemingly a lot more far-fetched.

No one will sit on the Iron Throne.

By the end of the series, the Iron Throne will be destroyed. Figuratively, and perhaps even literally.

With the recent revelations on the show (avoiding specifics for those who are an episode or two behind) the long-lasting union between Jon and Daenerys is less likely. They’re focusing more on the bad things Daenerys has done on her path to power, and why Jon might be a better candidate to rule over the Seven Kingdoms. Were this a lesser series, one might predict that Jon, the character whose moral compass has remained true throughout, would be the perfect king and his triumph over all enemies and ascension to the throne would be a natural an end-cap to the story. But Game of Thones is not a Tolkien fantasy and it’s aesthetic has never been about clean and easy resolutions.

So what could possibly work as the resolution of the story to both provide a satisfying conclusion to the fans and stay true to its grimdark roots? A dark horse candidate could ascend to the throne: perhaps someone like Gendry Baratheon. They could opt to take a redemption arc further than it needs to go and have Jaime Lannister rule with the council and blessing of the Three-Eyed Raven (which would mirror the opening episode nicely, in its own way.) But I still like my own theory best.

Over eight seasons we’ve seen many examples of how the wars of succession have been the bane of the regular people of Westeros. Not only have many died or suffered in the conflict that is virtually meaningless to them, but these struggles have left the Seven Kingdoms ill-prepared for the zombie invasion from the north. Installing any one person on the Iron Throne would only perpetuate this cycle–even if the ruler is highly effective–as the new succession war might begin anew after their passing.

The destruction of the Iron Throne and perhaps even all of King’s Landing as a seat of power would break the wheel in a more meaningful way than Daenerys meant when she talked about interrupting the cycle of succession struggles with Tyrion a couple of seasons ago. I could see a council of survivors (some good, some bad, most in-between) overseeing the Seven Kingdoms without a single monarch as a more viable long-term solution to Westeros’s problems. In a true GoT fashion, I could see a character people love to hate, like Cersei, even surviving to claim one of the seats. (Though her dying at Jamie’s hand would probably be far more satisfying to most.)

This is how I would end the story but, of course, I’m no Martin. Supposedly he and the showrunners knew exactly how the story would end before they even began filming, and I doubt the fact that the show has outpaces the book series would result in significant changes to that intended ending. Whatever they end up doing, I’m certain there will be plenty of gasp-worthy moments in the remaining episodes and that the finale will not disappoint.

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Old Spice, New Tricks

August 2, 2018

The Old Spice brand has recently introduced The Gentleman character class for the Dungeons & Dragons role playing game. The Gentleman is tailor-crafted to confidently gallivant about the fantasy landscape, promoting male grooming products to a demographic that could really use them (according to the gamer stereotypes the ad agency researchers read about on the internet.)

This unsolicited intrusion may prove to be pure marketing gold, and other brands will race to stake their claims by inserting mascots into beloved game franchises. Here’s a preview of potential forthcoming collaborations.

  • Hamburglar stars as the anti-hero of the next Grand Theft Auto installment. The young miscreant will roam the urban jungle, hijacking cars and knocking over fast-food joints. His predisposition for the Golden Arches will have players primed to answer in the affirmative when asked, “Would you like fries with that?” Vice City PD will also want to put an APB out for his known associate and white-gloved stooge, Hamburglar Helper.
  • Mystery board game Clue replaces Mr. Green with Mr. Clean. What’s the enigmatic mascot hiding behind that smirk? The answer to that might be “Mr. Clean with the mop,” pretty much in any room of the house. They could all use some tidying up.
  • Players will begin the game of Life as the Gerber Baby and enjoy a worry-free adolescence as Mad Magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman, but eventually grow up and get a job as the Maytag Repairman. The marriage to Mrs. Butterworth will be rocked by an affair with the Sun-Maid Raisin Girl, but eventually they’ll work things out and have a Big Boy of their own. Only the winning player will be able to lay claim to the title of The Most Interesting Man Alive.
  • Halo’s Master Chief will be replaced with Colonel Sanders, who will need all eleven of his herbs and spices to defeat wave after wave of GEICO Geckos on some hellish alien planet.
  • The Charmin Bears may only need a few sheets to get clean, but they’ll discard plenty of toilet paper to clog up the warp pipes and finally let Mario and Luigi utilize their plumbing skills in the next Super Mario Bros. side-scroller.
  • Tony the Tiger, Toucan Sam, and the Trix rabbit are few of the characters to appear in the next expansion of Pokémon trading cards. The cutthroat breakfast cereal business has prepared them for the life of savage gladiatorial combat against other cute pets.
  • Hollywood won’t be far behind, casting the Michelin Man in Fast and the Furious, Cap’n Crunch in Battleship II, and Uncle Ben in the Spider-man prequel.

This trend shall continue ad infinitum, until all of us feel like the Coca-Cola Polar Bears, trapped on the ever-shrinking icebergs of pastimes and media not yet co-opted by clever marketing firms.


This tiny story is free. If you enjoyed it, please consider buying my books or supporting my current Kickstarter campaign.

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Kickstarters Galore

May 18, 2018

As you patiently wait for the UFO7 kickstarter campaign (which should be coming next month!) there are several anthology projects I’d like to encourage you to check out. I find myself involved in not one, not two, but three separate anthologies that are seeking funding at the moment, and I hope some of them will strike your fancy.

First up is the anthology edited by Mike Ventrella and published by Fantastic Books where Mike has asked a group of funny and imaginative authors to come up with a story which has the line “Release the Virgins!” in it at some point. Some of the authors involved include David Gerrold, Allen Steele, Jody Lynn Nye, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, and Keith R. A. DeCandido among others. If this project funds I will contribute a funny original story from the Coffee Corps universe!

Release the Virgins on Kickstarter

Another project that also launched tonight is Timeshift: Tales of Time, edited by Eric S. Fomley. This is an anthology of flash fiction stories about time travel, time dilation, and other time-related weirdness. You’ll get stories by Bob Silverberg, Cat Rambo, Ken Liu, Mike Resnick, Kevin J. Anderson and two of my own tales (two assuming the project reaches a very achievable milestone of 25 backers)

Timeshift on Kickstarter

Finally, there’s another anthology of even tinier stories, also edited by Eric Fomley. Drabbledark is a collection of drabbles — stories that are exactly 100 words long. I posted about this one a couple of weeks ago and am happy to report it has reached its initial funding goal. It’s now in stretch goals and has 11 days left to pick up some more steam.

Drabbledark on Kickstarter

In addition to all the crowdfunding news, I also learned today that my story “Ambassador to the Meek” (originally published in The Sum of Us anthology edited by Susan Forest and Lucas K. Law) has been selected to appear in Best Indie Speculative Fiction, volume 1, forthcoming in November 2018.

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Pay what you want for HUMANITY 2.0 in January

January 3, 2018

Humanity 2.0 is the Phoenix Pick Book of the Month in January! That means you can pay whatever you want for it, or even snag it for free if you don’t want to subsidize my caffeine habit.  This promotion will only last for the month of January, so hurry up and take advantage of the offer!

http://www.phoenixpick.com/botm/Humanity.htm

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The Cackle of Cthulhu Released!

January 2, 2018

It’s launch day for The Cackle of Cthulhu and it’s also the international science fiction day, which is rather fitting, isn’t it? You can grab the book from Amazon or most online and physical bookstores.  I’m really excited about this anthology and think it will appeal to anyone who enjoys the Unidentified Funny Objects anthologies.

You can try to win a free signed copy here, or just buy your own!

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2017 Year in Review

December 31, 2017

Another year is in the books as my adventure in speculative writing, translation, and publishing continues. It has been a somewhat quieter year, with fewer short stories written and sold, but there have been new exciting opportunities and new successes I’m proud of. Some of the highlights for me:

* I’ve had two new anthologies published, Unidentified Funny Objects 6 and Funny Horror. And The Cackle of Cthulhu is coming out next week.
* I was nominated for the Canopus award for the second time, for “Whom He May Devour” published in Nautil.us. Winners will likely be announced in January and although I don’t expect to win (there’s tremendous competition in my category, and I predict the award will go to Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds) I’m thrilled to be recognized.
* I’ve translated and sold a number of Russian language speculative stories. I also recently helped judge a Russian science fiction short story contest, which was great fun, and will be translating the winning story into English soon.
* I was involved in a best-selling book! I got to write a story for Monster Hunter Files, edited by Larry Correia and Bryan Thomas Schmidt. It was by far the most high-profile anthology I’ve had my fiction appear in to date and it was great fun to play in the urban fantasy universe I immensely enjoy reading.
* I broke into some new-for-me markets, including the stories Analog magazine (with a story co-written with Alvaro Zinos-Amaro.)

Not all of my plans for 2017 worked out as planned. Let’s take a look at my list of goals for the year I posted twelve months ago:

  • Sell Eridani’s Crown (my first novel).

Didn’t happen. Publishing, it appears, is a slow-moving beast. I only got two rejection slips for my book, and the other couple of editors my agent sent it to haven’t responded at all. I remain optimistic and look forward to a better result next year!

  • Write and finish my second novel within the 2017 calendar year.

Didn’t happen either. I’m a bit more than half-way through writing The Middling Affliction. I’m rather disappointed in this, but there were good reasons for the delays and I will keep plugging away at it until the book is done.

  • Sell at least one new anthology to a major publisher.

I haven’t actually tried. I plan on pitching Baen some more ideas, but I think it’ll work better if they see strong sales numbers for Cackle, and that took longer to publish than I anticipated. I do have other editing projects in the pipeline and other exciting editing-related stuff that I hope to announce soon.

  • Publish UFO6 and Funny Horror.

Done, and done.

  • Sell or crowdfund my second short story collection, aiming to be published in 2018.

The book is funded, written, and sent off to the copy editor. It should be releasing in May.

In 2017 I also write eleven new short stories, totaling over 33,000 words of fiction. I wrote over 40,000 words for my second novel. And it’s not til I just looked it up that I realized I actually wrote more words of fiction than I did last year. Yay! Eight of the newly-written stories are already sold, which is a really good ratio. (It helps that four of my new stories were commissioned or written for invitation anthologies.)

I earned $3341 from direct short fiction sales (not counting translations, anthology royalties, etc.) which is a nice bump from 2016’s $2170. As before, aggressive marketing of reprints has been hugely helpful toward this number. According to my spreadsheet I sent out a total of 123 submissions this year, which resulted in 27 acceptances. (These numbers do include translations.) Interestingly, this is the exact same number of submissions as last year, but those only resulted in 20 acceptances.

Here is the list of the original stories and first-run translations of mine that were published in 2017:

Golf to the Death – Galaxy’s Edge – 03/01/17
First Million Contacts (w/Bryan Thomas-Schmidt) – Little Green Men Attack!, Baen, 3/07/2017
Recall Notice – Tales from the Miskatonic Library, PS Publishing – 3/07/17
Parametrization of Complex Weather Patterns for Two VariablesDaily Science Fiction – 5/24/17 Free Online
Catalogue of Items in the Chess Exhibit at the Humanities Museum, Pre-Enlightenment WingNature – 7/20/17 Free Online
The Practical Guide to Punching NazisDaily Science Fiction – 7/31/17 – Free Online
Ambassador to the Meek – The Sum of Us anthology, Laksa Media – 9/8/17
The Hunt for the Vigilant
– Oceans anthology – 9/26/17

The Troll Factory
– Monster Hunter Files, Baen Books – 10/3/17

Translations:
Untilted by K. A. Teryna – Apex Magazine – 11/14/2017 – Free Online
Impress Me, Then We’ll Talk about the Money by Tatiana Ivanova – UFO6 – October 2017
Black Hole Heart by K. A. Teryna – Apex Magazine – 6/21/2017 – Free Online
Despite only a 50% success rate on my 2017 goals, I’ll go ahead and set some goals for 2018:
* Sell Eridani’s Crown to a publisher.
* Finish The Middling Affliction.
* Break into at least one new major short fiction market where I haven’t been published before.
* Continue to translate Russian stories. Translate at least three new ones in 2018.
* At least double the number of subscribers to my mailing list. (Which I haven’t been working very hard to promote so far.)
Happy New Year, and may your goals for the new year be accomplished!
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