Saturday is the Unidentified Funny Objects 6 launch party at Capclave. I'll be there to read my story, "A Crawlspace Full of Prizes." The festivities start at 3. Come say hello!
Bill's blog. Writing, guitars, gratuitous Simpsons references, you'll find it all here. Almost certainly a waste of time for both you and the author. On the internet, that's actually a plus.
My latest short story, "A Crawlspace Full of Prizes," is available now in Unidentified Funny Objects, Volume 6. It's one of my favorites. It's a classic tale of an everyman who, while going into his crawlspace to put away the Christmas decorations, finds a fully-staffed prize counter to a Dave & Busters.
Here's an excerpt:
Thursday, you walk around to the rear of your house to the crawlspace to put away a box of Christmas decorations for the year. You expect that behind the three-by-five crawlspace door will be the crawlspace, since it's right there in its name and everything. But instead of the musty smell of garden tools and old maple boards from that cutting board you tried to make but gave up on, you find a neon-lit room with day-glo carpet. Top-40 radio blares over loudspeakers that sound nicer than anything you've got in your den. At the center of the room is a glass display case filled with little plastic spider-rings and Pixy Stix, as well as other assorted knick-knacks, candies, baubles, and gee-gaws. You couldn't be more surprised if a bear had jumped out of the crawl space. A bear would've at least made a certain kind of sense. You mention this to Sean, the surly, skinny, pimply teen wearing a green polo shirt and nametag, standing behind the glass counter. You also ask him what the heck he's doing here, anyway?
"Because it's my shift," Sean tells you.
How did he even get this job? This is your house, you protest. Surely there must be a mistake. Sean will have to leave this instant. And where are you supposed to put your Christmas decorations?
If there were competitions for such things, Sean's reply of, "I don't know what to tell you," would win gold for Least Helpful Phrase in the English Language.
You can buy your copy of UFO 6 at Amazon.
Check out my new Hacks for Hacks column, fresh from the oven: Only 45 Shopping Days Until NaNoWriMo! Here's an excerpt:
We’re halfway through September, which means it’s almost October, better known as Secretly Start Working on your NaNoWriMo Novel Month. You probably know it by its acronym, SSWOYNANOWRIMONNOMO (which, by coincidence, is also a curse in a long-forgotten tongue, so don’t say it out loud lest you fall into the dreamless sleep of a thousand years, which will wreck your daily word count). Here’s the thing: Nobody is going to stop you from starting your NaNoWriMo novel early. Yes, I know the NaNoWriMo songs and stories about what happens to early starters, but we’re adults here. We can admit that Halifax the October Hobgoblin won’t steal all the vowels from your keyboard; that the Dropbox Gremlin isn’t going to replace entire chapters of your book with its erotic haiku while you sleep; and that the Eternal Editor will not demand you rewrite the entire manuscript if you ever want to see your doggo alive again.
My new Writer Unboxed column is live today. The topic: How to give a literary reading, which you probably gathered by the title of this blog post. Anyway, here's an excerpt:
Before the Reading
- Eat a healthy and delicious breakfast that morning.Choose wisely, as this is what you’ll be throwing up later due to your crippling stage fright.
- Set the stage. Arrive at the venue early and get a lay of the land. Check if there will be a microphone or lectern or what-have-you. Look for opportunities for cool visuals, such as a blown-up picture of your book cover, or a big poster of your face like in Citizen Kane. Queue up some entrance music. Walking up to the mic through misty clouds from your smoke machine to the tune of “Rock You Like a Hurricane” will let your audience know that a serious author is taking the stage.
- Choose the right piece to read. You’ll want something people can follow without you having to explain a bunch of backstory beforehand. The beginning of your book is a good choice. An exception to this rule is if you’re reading the first chapter of a sequel–to make sure people know what’s going on, be sure to read the climax of your previous book first.
Have you heard of Patreon? It’s a company that empowers crowd-sourced patronage of the arts, including but not limited to authors. By pledging monthly support at one of various patronage tiers, each with its own level of perks and rewards, you’re able to support your favorite writers directly. I have recently started my own, and it is my fondest wish that your patronage does not include me.
Check out my new column, "The Social Contract for Writers" at Writer Unboxed. Part of the social contract is reading my column, so, you know, you'd better get started. Here's an excerpt:
Buy your friends’ books. Buying a peer’s book is a sign of professional respect. Buying the cheaper ebook version is a sign of being a savvy shopper.
- No jealousy allowed. Celebrate friends’ successes! Rather than seethe with envy, better to remind them that without help from good people like yourself, they’d be nothing. NOTHING.
It's column time again! This month's edition: "Low-tech Tools for Writers."
Are your gadgets and gizmos getting in the way of your writing? I've got some ideas. Good ideas. GREAT ideas.
The Typewriter: The older, the heavier, the more beat-up, the better. The main thing is you want it to be LOUD; when you type, it should sound like an army of spooky skeletons are storming your front door. This has the added bonus of scaring away any roving bands of skeletons, who are very territorial and don’t like to move in on another skeleton gang’s territory.
Some good-quality paper: Show people you mean business by buying some heavy bond in brilliant, gleaming white. Paper so white, it hurts to look at. Paper so white, it’s pronounced “HHWHITE!” Paper so white, if it gives you a paper cut, the cops will let it off with just a warning.
Hey! I've got a new column up at Writer Unboxed: "How to Sign Books Like a Big-shot Author." Here's an excerpt:
Method 1: The Squiggle
The ink should flow from your pen like the wine flowed down your gullet when you wrote your book. I don’t mean that literally–we don’t want the pen to explode, you lush! Just put some oomph into it while you’re signing. If you do it right, your signature should match your polygraph readout when someone asks you how many books you’ve sold.
If you're at Illogicon this weekend, I'll be doing some fun panels with a bunch of smart people. Here's my schedule:
Friday - 4pm - Cameron - Debunking Fake News and Pseudo Science
Assessing claims and debunking the harmful junk floating around while maintaining your sanity and relationships. Panelists: Randy Richards, Darin Kennedy, Bill Ferris, James Maxey, Jessa Pearce
Friday - 7pm - Smith - Paranormal Pets: The Cutest Critters, Cryptids, and Creepers
Is a magical familar ever just too much? Do Pokemon count? How does having a stalwart companion change our emotional investment in a story? Panelists: Mur Lafferty, Michael Williams, Natania Barron, Bill Ferris, Randy Richards
Friday - 11pm - Cameron - Robot and AI Rights (M)
Self driving cars, drones, and sexbots: the lines between science and science fiction are blurring when it comes to AI and machine automation. And have you seen the Boston Dynamics robot dogs? The future is now, y’all.
Panelists: Bill Ferris, Christos Archer, James Maxey, Randy Richards
Saturday - 10am - Reynolds - Saturday Morning Cartoon Nostalgia
Wear your jammies, bring your coffee, and talk about your favorite cartoons of the 80s, 90s, and beyond! BYOCereal! Panelists: Christopher Moore, Bill Ferris, John Lapoint, Jessa Pearce, Janet S. Planets
Check out my new column at Writer Unboxed, "How to Plan Your 2017 Writing Agenda." Here's an excerpt:
April: Set aside the first half of the month to do your taxes for all the books you sold last year. If you didn’t sell many (or any) books, reserve this time for crying softly in the dark. You can spend the second half of the month finishing the novel draft you were supposed to finish in March.
May: You’re not really used to planning things this far in advance. I mean, they could have flying cars and faster-than-light travel by then! There’s a good chance they’ll have a device that can extract the words for your novel directly from your brain.
June: The rejection letters from those short stories you sent out in March should start arriving. Spend the rest of the month in an coffee-fueled anxiety attack and revise each piece until it’s barely recognizable. That way, maybe someday someone, somewhere, will finally love you.
Now go read the whole thing. I mean, if you want to, I didn't mean that as a command or anything. But you totally should.