matt_doyle: (Default)
 This year, I wrote two stories!  

The first was Hunting the Phoenix, historical RPF about Antinous and his affair with the Roman Emperor Hadrian.  It's kind of... a meditation on the unknowability of Antinous while he was a live, from Antinous' perspective.  The more I researched this story the more I had questions with no answers, and I wanted to write something that reflected that rather than putting in my own glib answers.  Of course, I did put in my own glib answers, too.  But I tried to be subtle about it, to the point where my primary beta reader missed them entirely.  Readers, I ask: what did you see me say on the matter?

The second was The Child Eaters, Greek mythology/Greek drama fic about Electra, Orestes, and Pylades after the murder of Clytemnestra.  The idea was to blend the wrenching verisimilitude of Sophocles with the over-the-top cynical strangeness of Euripides and add a soupcon on Tarantino, and I'mm not quite sure if it worked, but I had fun trying and I might want to tamper with it a little more.

Yuletide!

Dec. 25th, 2013 10:32 am
matt_doyle: (Default)
 This year I received None So Blind, a Nazca-centric Gentlemen Bastards Sequence fic, and it definitely brought a smile to my morning.  The character voices are keen and the mini-episodes amusing.  

I haven't had time to start reading and reccing anything else yet, but I shall, which will actually give me something to blog about for a change.

And I wrote not one but TWO stories this year, both of them, I think, very distinctly my handiwork - guess either of them correctly and I'll reward you with flash-fiction of some kind.  Guess both before the reveal, and I'll write you something longer.  

Oh, and I guess Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, too.
matt_doyle: (Default)
 Registration is now open.  Megan & I will be going back for sure.
matt_doyle: (Default)

Request 1: Persona 3  

I'd like to see what happened in between Persona 3 FES & Persona 4 Arena, with a special emphasis on the ladies of SEES. If you chose a FeMC route, Shinjiro, too.


I’m especially invested in/curious about Mitsuru, Fuuka, & Aigis; but the story could focus on as many or as few of them as you like.  Chihiro would be a nice bonus!



Request 2:  Otoyomegatari | The Bride's Stories  

Either 1) Shippy fluff with Amira & Karluk, preferably set somewhere after their current troubles have been resolved; or  2) How Smith wins his bride back? If there are additional Great Game shenanigans, that's a plus.


In case you’re not familiar with it, the Great Game is detailed here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Game and the role it could play in the Bride’s Stories canon is especially fascinating to me.



Request 3:  Scott Pilgrim (Comics)  

All I want from life is a where-are-they-now 80s-movie-ending coda, showing as many of the cast as possible a few years later.


Ramona, Knives, Kim, & Wallace are the characters I’m most interested in, but I do love the whole cast, so I’m not very picky.



Request 4:  Gentleman Bastard Sequence - Scott Lynch  

Pre-TLOLL, anytime from age 7-21, Nazca & Locke (and the Gentleman bastards, optionally) getting into trouble together.


What it says on the tin.  I like caper stories and I adored what little we saw of Nazca & Locke’s friendship.  I’ve read Republic of Thieves, so feel free to draw from there as well.



Overall, I guess I’m not really picky this year.  I prefer dialogue and action to vignettes and introspection; I like to see the details of the world around the characters, and I have a great love of banter and shenanigans and capers, which I think nearly any of these requests could lend themselves to.  Ideally I want a fluffy story, mostly gen unless it’s Bride’s Stories but with plenty of shipping welcome as long as it isn’t the focus, and an ensemble cast of active characters pursuing their goals in creative ways.

Thank you so much for writing for me.

No Subject?

Oct. 9th, 2013 09:42 am
matt_doyle: (Default)
 My blogging renaissance seems to have been temporary.  I haven't given up on it, exactly, but my interest has flagged yet again, and my creative energies are dispersed thither and yon, which is less than conducive for focusing on, y'know, my novels, let alone a blog lying fallow.

Revising Running In Her Veins continues apace.  I'm still stuck at the 75% mark in Hellion Prince.  I've had a few other novelistic impulses in the last few days, like The B Team, my garage-band superhero notion; and I'm having all kinds of feels about Steve Brust's suggestions on playing with structure.

So far this year, I've written 30,000 words, which isn't terrible, but it's about 25% of where I wanted to be.  Maybe i'll try to pick up a NaNoWriMo project this year.

That's all I've got at the moment.  Hopefully, I'll have more to say soon.
matt_doyle: (Default)
 I'm sure you'l all be relieved to hear that dreamwidth/LJ wasn't the only social media site I was neglecting this year.  I also forgot to update my YouTube channel as frequently as intended.

You didn't know I had a YouTube channel?  Well, that would be because I started it earlier this year and, er, forgot to mention it.  Honestly, I think it's worth watching just for the expansion and contraction of my facial hair from video to video, but there are also frequent cameos from my cat, readings from novels, and a song I wrote.  Oh, and my impression of Kaworu from Neon Genesis Evangelion participating in a rap battle.

It's pretty clear between the meandering subjects and the terrible production values that I don't really know what I'm doing on YouTube, yet, but I'll probably continue to noodle around there until I do.  After all, it can't be worse than my first 12 livejournal posts....
matt_doyle: (Default)
 As you know if you've been following me on other social media, I've been thinking a lot lately about returning to academia.  I've been out for five years now, and career-wise I'm at a dead end - I have a solid resume for community organizing work, but I'm in a town where community organizers only get hired for election season; and I can't afford (nor do I want) to move at this time.  Job prospects on other fronts are pretty dismal... and this isn't just me being depressed and negative.  Since 2009 I've put in over 700 job applications and gotten nothing but temp work (mostly community organizing and canvassing work).  I've workshopped my resume twice.  I've networked as much as I can, although I'm admittedly bad at selling myself.  It's just not the Minnesotan way.

And all along, I've wanted to go back for a higher degree.  I just haven't seen a practical way to achieve that goal.

Well.  One of my local universities has both a master's program and a doctoral program in literature.  I can't pick and choose between schools the way I'd like to - doing that pushes my goal of a higher degree unseeably further into the future.  But I can pursue a master's degree in 2014 or 2015 right here, and get started.  It's not an ideal path, but it's an achievable one.  Tuition is reimbursed for TAs and the stipend they tack on on top of that would make grad school frankly the most lucrative career choice I've ever considered.

There is, of course, a catch.  In my last undergraduate semester, I was unable to take out the loans I needed to cover all of my tuition.  That means that at the present moment, I still owe $4600 directly to my alma mater, so they won't release transcripts to me, which means I can't apply.  At current irregular rates of income it would be between five or ten years before I could save enough to pay my current bills and still pay that down.

So I'm asking for help.  My debt to my college, GRE costs, application fees, and miscellaneous student activity fees at my school of choice total at $6035, and I'm trying to raise that money through... well, through asking friends, family, and kind-hearted strangers to offer me money.  In the last ten days I've already moved a staggering 10% of my way to that goal, more than I'd ever hoped... enough to bring me at least a year closer to that dream, but not enough yet to get me there by 2014 or 2015.

So I'm asking all of you, too.  Here is my gofundme page.  If you can spare even ten or twenty dollars, you'll be giving me a gift I will never forget.  I feel audacious and ashamed even to ask for this, but as far as I can tell, I've exhausted other viable options (the head of financial aid at the Minnesota Office of Higher Education and I had a long talk about it -- she's a great lady, very professional and very funny, and she returns her phone calls promptly, but even she didn't have any constructive suggestions for me -- and her office was hardly the first place I've called).

Why should you donate to me?  Well, maybe you shouldn't.  But I'm passionate about literature and the study of it.  I've (almost) always done quite well at school.  If you help me, I won't disappoint your expectations.  I will live my life and pursue my career fiercely and gratefully.  When an opportunity comes to help someone the way so many people have already helped me, I will take it (actually, that's true whether or not you give me a dime.  I'm already committed to the notion of crowdfunding education as a viable supplemental thing, better than more loans by a longshot).  I've also promised that, by request, I'll write short fiction for any and all donors at 5 cents a word.  Donate $10 and you get a couple drabbles.  $50 and you get 1,000 words, and so on.  You can commission me as specifically as you'd like and I'll do my best to deliver.

 I can't really offer a lot of incentives other than that.  Pictures of my cat, maybe.  My undying goodwill.

I've got a dream.  I'll get to it on my own, someday.

I'd like your help so that I can get there sooner.

ETA: My writing is over here if anyone’s wondering how worthwhile commissioning me might be!
matt_doyle: (boom de yadah)
 When I enter that into google, the top result is a calculator informing me that that's 14515 kg.  Wikipedia informs me that there are numerous Russian parody versions of the song (because it's apparently a huge hit in Russia) in which 'sixteen tons' is the weight of a bomb.

Mostly, after three days of constantly humming it, I want recommendations of other tunes by deep-voiced bluesmen that will drive it out of my head.

(Yes, I know it's categorized as country and not blues, but as genres go, I prefer blues.  Indulge me?)


matt_doyle: (Default)
 My productivity's more stable than it was last fall when I dropped off the face of the blogosphere, but I'm not quite comfortable back in the saddle yet, and there are days when a given blogging subject seems to have too many handholds  and I don't know where or how I want to climb onto it.

No profound essays today, but I'm still here, still intending to stick around.and keep posting.  My profound thoughts today are all centered around the notion that two Italian kids with no money seemed to be able to compile as much data on the Soviet space program as the entire apparatus of NASA did.  I'm a touch skeptical, given the source, but it's an interesting tale.

Second, have the unexpected delight of the Red Army Choir singing 'Sixteen Tons'.  I've been doing some reading lately on Russia & the USA's political relationship, currently and historically, and so I find this especially substance-rich.  How much common ground is there between what the song means to me and what it means to them?  How vast is the distance in perspective between the unshared grounds?
matt_doyle: (meta)
I have four damn novels in progress already; why did I start writing a new one at 5 AM this morning?
Read more... )
matt_doyle: (Default)
 I'm going to start my discussion of 4th Street with the tale of how I sassed a bunch of panelists.

First of all I want to emphasize that the panel discussions were good at Fourth Street.  I think someone described the experience as a postgraduate seminar for literary fantasy nerds, and that's not wrong.  They were enthusiastic, opinionated, well-informed, receptive to the audience, never once bent on self-promotion and in fact very shy to draw on their own works by way of example... they guided discussion and questions by the audience rather than dictating to us or lecturing us.

It was f***ing brilliant.

And as I also noted, they were exceptionally gracious and did not mind being corrected.  For which I am thankful, because if it were otherwise, I would never have had the nerve to sass the august assembly.

The particular panel was a discussion of the journey in fantasy, with an emphasis on the aftermath, and what the heroes bring home with them, and how that is significant to the worldbuilding and development.

In passing, Lord of the Rings was mentioned, and dismissed as a series in which 'what you bring home with you' was not significant.

At which point my hand shot up and I began compiling notes.  The audience was very active, so waiting my turn took the better part of half an hour.  The discussion had moved on, and I almost let it go.

But, dammit, they were wrong.  I have poked numerous holes in Tolkien's masterwork on this blog before, but the man worked with deliberation and finesse and this was something he knew about, and something he illustrated beautifully.  So, by the time I was called on, what i had was less a correction and more of a manifesto.

Bilbo brought home the Ring, for starters.  I mean, seriously.  He brought home enough gold and silver to have a measurable effect on the economy of Hobbiton, but he was a parsimonious investor (it lasted him more than sixty years) and he was rich already, so let's pass by that.  He brought home a mithril coat, a significant enough cultural artifact that it was put in a museum.

Gandalf, world traveler, brought fireworks to the Shire.  He seemed to be their only source.  He was also a primary factor in the export of pipe-weed to other nations.  He reportedly took with him many young and adventurous hobbits, and while we do not see their impact on the world outside of the monumental developments they're instrumental in in Lord of the Rings, well, it's still something.  But Gandalf's return journeys aren't primarily what we're concerned with, but rather, the return of others from journeys he instigated or facilitated.  It is worth noting, however, that he brought Saruman's attention to the Shire, so Saruman being "brought home" is the result of a journey's aftermath, and critically shaped the society and economy of the place.

Frodo brought home a severe case of PTSD, resulting in his inability to remain in the Shire, ending a dynasty of Bagginses.  

Sam brought home a number of invasive elven species of flora which, we are told, flourished in the area.

Merry and Pippin brought home a new respect for militarization from Gondor and Rohan, which was instrumental in ousting Saruman's regime, and whose effects clearly lasted, as we're told in the appendices.  Hobbits becoming invested in their own border defense is a big deal.  I believe we're also told that their heirs kept the Ent-draught tallness their parents acquired?  So that's a legacy of sorts too, a congenital conditions whose effects would be visible through generations.

Aragorn brought home to Gondor a lasting elven alliance & intermarriage, restored Numenorean traditions and knowledge and style of rule, replanted the Tree... he revolutionized the nation because of the things he brought from his lifetime of journeying.

Legolas & Gimli brought home a renewed interest in peace, understanding, and cultural exchange between their peoples.  Aglarond & Lorien, friendly nations in proximity to one another, were surely greatly affected by this one friendship that resulted from the aftermath of a journey.

In short, everything we see after the fall of Mordor falls under the heading of "what they bring home with them," and the cavalier dismissal of Lord of the Rings as a source of material for discussion was a grave oversight.

... I got a lot of laughs with the "invasive elven species of flora" line especially, although really, I wasn't joking. This provoked a later discussion, post-panel, of whether or not magical beneficial plants could be considered invasive species, but I don't recall the details, although Megan might.

Your thoughts, my friends? 


matt_doyle: (Default)
 

When you owe someone a drink, it’s usually pretty easy to set up a meeting with them.  Recently, I sat down with Steven Brust and Skyler White (Skyler, I guess I owe you a drink, too) to discuss their new book, The Incrementalists, out on September 24th.  (You can pre-order it on Amazon here)  Of course, this is a convenient fiction.  I sat down at my computer, and they sat down at theirs.  However, I was drinking while I did it.


In any case, The Incrementalists is a fabulous tale about a group of immortal personalities who’d like to make the world a better place just a little bit at a time.  When one dies, they choose someone new to inherit the memories and persona of the deceased, and the work continues.  The fact that this may not be an uneventful procedure is central to the book, but apart from that, I wouldn’t want to spoil you.  Except to say that I’ve read the book; and found it to be incredibly engaging and enjoyable.  I hope you will too.  With a concept this broad in scope, there are any number of questions to be asked, but this had to be an interview that would fit neatly in a blog post, so I stuck to just the best ten questions that occurred to me (I was tempted to ask seventeen).  Skyler, Steve, feel free to answer jointly, take turns, or give separate answers - whatever works best for you.  If my questions are asked in the wrong order to give smooth answers, feel free to flop ‘em around.  And thanks for giving me the opportunity to do this.  I’ll get you those drinks.  Really.  Ever tried baijiu?


1. Why did you decide to collaborate on this project?  Who started it?  Which came first, the notion that you should work together, or the notion you’d be working on? Please pretend this is all one question.


Steve: The idea for The Incrementalists had been hanging around for years, ever since Tappan King suggested it to me.  Sitting around with Skye one evening talking about Art and Craft and such, we got to talking about collaboration, and putting the two together was kind of obvious.


Skye: Yeah, I think I’d been griping about missing the collaborative aspects of theater and Steve said something like, “So why don’t you co-write something?” Mind=Blown.  I had no idea you could do such a thing.  



2.  How was the collaboration process different from writing the book alone?  (Wow, that’s a little broad).  Er… how did you find that working together changed the way you’d looked at the novel, and what sorts of things did your co-author add that you could never have throught of on your own?  Brag about each other for a moment.


Steve: God.  Where to begin.  Every time I’d get a section I’d drop everything and read it.  I mean, seriously, I’m glad none of my kids had to go to the ER just when an email from Skyler arrived.  It always kicked me--I don’t think I ever knew what was coming, and I don’t think I ever had to think for more than a few minutes about where it should go next; even though I hadn’t had a clue before reading that section.  The story simply unfolded in front of me, each new twist and turn and surprise feeling natural after the fact.  Above all, in addition to plot twists and symbolic Easter eggs (some of which I’m just now picking up on) I think Skyler added grace, sensuality, and nuance of characterization.


Skye: When Steve and I started working together, I’d published two books and knew exactly enough about writing to thoroughly screw myself up. I was working on a huge, near-future YA whose ideas and characters I loved, but the execution was killing me.

I’d learned enough to recognize my mistakes as I was making them, but not enough to stopping making them.  It was like once, in a ballet class, mid tour jete, I forgot what foot I was supposed to land on –  you have to understand what a horror an irate ballet teacher can be – and  my mind went, “Left foot? Right?” and my body went “Face!”  Every sentence I’d start, I’d stop midway because something wasn’t right -- I was telling, not showing; there was  -- oh, god!—an adverb; I’d head-hopped; I’d slipped into passive voice; that analogy was cliché.  I was a cliché – the sophomore slumped, writer’s blocked writer.

But Steve is nothing if not original and he writes with such glee, with such love, that it’s contagious.  He taught me how to loosen up and fix the oopsies in edits.  Working with him allowed me to out-source the judge. He lent me his confidence.  I wanted to be a better writer and the only way I know how to be better is to work harder, but I was working so hard I was in danger of killing the love.  He taught me how to play. Sharing the work, borrowing his confidence, leaning on his strengths to cover my weakness, allowed me to give the work enough space that the love could breathe.  Cause there’s no point in being a better writer if you hate writing.  



3.  There’s a lot of finnicky worldbuilding involved here, especially when it comes to the Garden.  I didn’t know how to describe it briefly in my summary.  Can you say a few explanatory words about what the Garden is and what it means to the Incrementalists?


Steve: Oh, but, man, that would ruin it.  I mean, one of the fun things is discovering that, letting the information seep in.  One of the great joys of science fiction is how revealing the world to the reader happens as part of the uncovering of character and the movement of the plot.  They go together to make Story.


Skye:  The garden = Werner Herzog’s ‘Cave of Dreams” + David Chalmer’s “The Extended Mind” + Steve & Skye + whiskey.  


4.  What, exactly, was the original driving notion of the story, and how did it develop into the intrigue and romance that we’ve got now?


Steve: The original driving notion was, simply, a group of immortals who have been around since the invention of symbol, who want to make the world better.  The framework and mechanics were, for the most part, created by following up on that premise and, as Sturgeon would say, asking the next question.  And then having friends try to pick holes in it, and then plug those holes.  You were a part of that process as you recall.  The rest of story simply told itself; we discovered it as we were writing it, and wanting to tell each other the next cool thing.  Then, of course, there was going over it all to make it look like we’d known what we were doing all along.


Skye:Yeah, that really is about it. Tappan King had this charmingly optimistic idea that, if you consider how improbable, fragile and stupid we are, it’s stunning we’re still around.  Things could have been, really should have been, so much, much worse.  Maybe there’s a secret cabal helping us out.  On the other hand, things certainly could still be better so obviously they’re not divine or even super-human.  So what would they be?  What could they do and not do?  Why would they do it?  And we were off.  



5.  Why would a group of immortals organize themselves in this way?  While there’s certainly a lot of dissension, overall they’re a remarkably harmonious group of people, I think.  What lead them to become Incrementalists as we see them now?


Steve: I really believe that there is a drive in many people to make the world better.  I believe there is also frustration that, in the real world, there is so little an individual can do.  The next step is wish-fulfillment--what if we, as individuals, really could make a difference?  And the step after that is: examine the consequences.


Skye: I think part of it is how lonely immortality would be.  To a certain extent, they are all they have. Incrementalists have only their relationships with the others in the group and their relationship with the world for as many lifetimes as they get. Everything else, to them, would be fleeting.   There’s altruism, but there’s also a simple utility in trying to get along as well as you can with that which is with you through multiple lifetimes.



6.  Of all the fantastical (or science-fictional) conceits in the story, which is your favorite, and what would you say is most central to the tale?


Steve: Good question!  (“Good question” is code for, “Fuck, I have to think about that.”)  I think my favorite is the precise means of securing immortality--that it requires the cooperation of the recruit, and that there are no guarantees of survival.  What is most central to the story is the meddlework itself, and the moral ambiguity inherent in it.


Skye: Yeah, and I love that it’s the mechanism of that transfer which they, the remembering ones, forget.  



7.  The Incrementalists prefer to stay behind the scenes, but they’ve been shaping human history for centuries.  Would you care to give some examples of events they meddled in for our benefit?  Bonus points if they’re not mentioned in the boards or in the novel itself.


Steve: The Incrementalists had a hand in bringing Nixon down, and getting FDR elected.  They were involved in organizing the IWW and the CIO.  They had a hand in ending apartheid in South Africa and ending Jim Crow in the USA, and in bringing down the Shah of Iraq.  They influenced Vikings in Britain to settle, rather than continue to destroy.  They were, in part, behind the Third Servile (Sparticus) Uprising in ancient Rome.  They encouraged the search for knowledge during what we call the Dark Ages, and helped bring about the Enlightenment.


Skyler:  In 1928, an Incrementalist convinced Anita Berber to go sober, but it was too late, and I’m pretty sure Maud Allen and Margaret Gage were Incrementalists or meddled  with by one.  I feel like there was probably some serious meddling at work in the discovery of the dead sea scrolls and the tomb at Sutton Hoo.  The lawyer Theodor Niemeyer was an Incrementalist and so was Olympe de Gouges.



8.  Likewise, one of the great aspects of this story is that anyone throughout history could have been an Incrementalist.  What historical figures do you imagine as having been part of the group?  What historical figures definitely weren’t, but had an incrementalist sort of jogging their elbow to make things turn out better?


Steve: Very few of the well-known historical figures were actually Incrementalists, but there was a great deal of elbow jogging going on.  I think there was some influence on Andrew Jackson when he fought to remove the property requirement for voting.  They helped give Madam Curie room to carry out her work. They worked on William Wilburforce to end the British slave trade. Martin Luther King had an Incrementalist nearby, as did Susan B. Anthony. They certainly meddled with Tom Paine.  I’d say Robespierre was meddled with a bit.  I have a suspicion that Simon Bolivar had someone behind him.  And more than likely Ghandi.


Skye:  I sorta rolled this question and the previous one into one and answered it above.


9.  So i kind of know the answer to this one, but let me ask it anyway.  What comes next for the Incrementalists?  What other plans do you have in this world?


Steve: I have a short story coming out from Tor on September 25th.  Skyler will have one later.  I’ve written another, and we’re working on a sequel to the book.  I would very much like it if this universe opened up and other people wanted to write Incrementalist stories.  That’d be cool.


10.  My favorite maybe-helpful, maybe-pain-in-the-ass way to end an interview.  What question haven’t I asked that you wish I would? (and what’s the answer?)


Skyler: All Incrementalists appear to fall somewhere in the political spectrum from the Left-central to the far Left.  Why is that?

Steve: Because I cannot believe in a character who is simultaneously intelligent, compassionate, knowledgeable in history, and Right Wing.  Any three of those I’ll buy, but not all four at the same time.


Steve:  What’s up with all the pirates?

Skye: We’ll never tell!


matt_doyle: (modern me)
... I'm dusting off the blog for at least a few days, un-retiring myself for a few very important reasons. If it catches, maybe I'll stick around and get back into the swing of things; if it doesn't I won't, but I won't be worrying about that very much right now.

Hi, everybody. It's good to be talking to you all again.

I still haven't managed to write up a blow-by-blow breakdown of 4th Street, but I'm going to launch right into an informal one here, then get around to discussing why I'm bothering to post (other than to indulge the corner of me that still pines for you all, which would be a perfectly legitimate reason because it's a fairly sizable corner. But it's not why I'm doing this. Honesty, best policy, etc.)

Anyway. the 4th Street Fantasy Convention was one of the most amazing weekends of my life. Beyond having a programming track that was simply amazing, I met a wide range of wonderful people - Elizabeth Bear, Scott Lynch, & Emma Bull, all in passing, but all as cool or cooler than reputation would dictate. Steven Brust & Skyler White, at considerably greater length, who did me the great and gratifying honor of being nearly as excited to meet me as I was to meet them. Jon Singer, laser wizard, one of the most erudite and interesting gentlemen it's been my pleasure to be educated by in a very long time, & Ctein, undoubtedly some other kind of wizard. These two held a tea-tasting which was simply incredible, and I have extended anecdotes about everyone on this list that I hope to get to in future posts I hope to make.

Megan & Tricia & I were also taken under the wing of Cathy Hindersinn & her family, who I can only describe as Heinlein heroes & heroines made flesh, & who were our guides and introductions to the con, making the experience immeasurably better. There's also Fade, whose private post-panel panel was one of the most fascinating symposia I've ever attended.

Really, this post could just be a list of acknowledgements and it would go on for pages. Future posts. Anyway. Friday evening there was a massive storm and a power outage that lasted twenty-four hours... and which, as far as I could tell, disrupted the con not at all. Even without lights or air conditioning, everything continued almost without a hitch, and really only added to the drama and excitement.

Of course, I wasn't staying at the hotel, so I could retreat across town to somewhere with hot water and working lights in the bathroom...

I had the great honor and pleasure of interrupting a panel on Sunday and comprehensively telling them off about how they were wrong about Lord of the Rings, and they were gracious enough to look amused and maybe grateful to my tirade.

Really, that was the thing about 4th Street, above all the others. Everyone was delighted to hear you speak, and even more delighted to be told that they were wrong. There was very little in the way of hierarchy placing authorial guests at the top... this was two hundred passionate and literate folk come to kibitz and take pleasure in one another's company.

I cannot recommend it highly enough to you all. I will certainly be going next year. And, I hope, expanding a great deal in posts about wizards, new friends, panels, memorable quotes... it's a rather belated retrospective, I know, but I took nine pages of notes while I was there, including some about albino crocodiles, and I'd like to share them all.

So, what made me get off my ass and post this now?

Well, I recently had the great pleasure of interviewing Steven Brust & Skyler White about their upcoming novel, The Incrementalists. I promised them I'd post this interview today or tomorrow, and without discussing 4th Street, I felt it'd be a complete non sequitir to explain how I ended up talking to them about all this.

There's another reason, too, but it will wait for another post, after I put up that interview, because that'll give me the motivation I need to stick around at least one more day, and because delving into it immediately seems crass and opportunistic.

Hopefully that'll be enough of a teaser to get you all to come back and read it.

If you're still around, oh my oldest and best audience, I'd love to hear from you. What have I missed? Every comment will be adored, lavished with love, and replied to with gratifying promptness. This I swear unto you.
matt_doyle: (Default)
And thinking I might actually have a few things to blog about, for the first time in months.

Watch this space.

So.

Apr. 26th, 2013 11:55 am
matt_doyle: (Default)
 Is anyone else going to the 4th Street Fantasy convention in the Twin Cities this year?

Still not re-enthused by blogging, alas.
matt_doyle: (Default)
 Posted Chapter Thirty, if anyone's still reading.

I've still been entirely absent from this portion of the blogosphere.  Not writing, and sadly not reading.  It just hasn't caught my interest.  It isn't that I don't miss you all, because I do.  It's just that with depression and anxiety, I have to triage my time to get anything done, and this is one of the things that got cut.

Maybe as the weather gets nicer (and I get more productive as a result) I'll return.  I'd like to, certainly.

Clearly...

Feb. 3rd, 2013 11:55 pm
matt_doyle: (Default)
 ... getting back into the habit of regular blogging has not been working for me.  I haven't been posting, and I actually haven't been reading, either.

I am curious about what is noteworthy in your lives, and I miss you guys... but I'm busy enough doing almost nothing elsewhere on the internet that I'm not missing the hours a day I used to sink into LJ & DW.

Still, if you've news, I'd be curious to hear it in comments, or be linked to the relevant posts.
matt_doyle: (Default)
 1) Writing.  165,000 words by the end of the year, or ~450 words per day.  This is well within my capabilities, especially if I can get a good head start on productive days.  As before, no beating myself up about bad days or off weeks -- just looking for new ways to increase productivity.  No giving up.

2) Finish my current writing projects.  If I work at it I can have Hellion Prince done in March or April.   I have several unfinished short stories and some barely-started novels, too -- producing finished work takes precedence after chasing new ideas.  Even though my wordcount as over 120,000 last year, under half of that was on the projects I had made priorities.  If this emans more polishing and editing and less new work -- even less overall words -- so be it.

3) Get an agent.  Speaks for itself.  I'm not ruling out self-pub for some of my projects, namely Swansong, but I need to query Hellion Prince and Running In Her Veins.  I want them both being shopped around before I turn 29.

4)  Sell a short story at a professional rate to a legit publication.  I've had short stories published, and I've been paid to write, but never both at the same time.  Once Hellion Prince is finished, and my query letters are out in the wild, this is priority numero uno.

5)  Publish a gaming project.  Whether a LARP or the Periodic Tome of Elementals.  Whether self-pub or traditional.  I game too much not to turn it into a revenue stream.

6) Blog three days a week.  I burned out on five days a week.  Let's try this.  Low priority, though.

7) Track what I read / do the 50 Books POC challenge.

8)  Get my weight down to under 200 lbs.  That means losing three pounds per month, every month.  Not sure how I'm going to go about it yet.  I'll work out a plan, and I'll get it done.

9) Pay down my college debt.  In the last few months, a fierce desire to continue my education and return to academia has woken up.  Rather than a pie-in-the-sky plan to pursue a dream degree in an unforseeable future, in 2014 I want to go to a local grad school and get working on a Master's in English Literature.  In order to do that, I have to stay current on my loans, pay down about $4000 I owe directly to my alma mater so they'll release my diploma, and do the GRE.  I can do that.  Good TA programs mean that school itself will cost me between nothing and $3K/year, and I can manage that too -- paying my alma mater will be good practice.

10) Renew my faith.  It's been rather in crisis this year, but it's also been the most successful tool in my mental arsenal for battling my panic attacks.  Both as a practical and a spiritual matter, I want to reconnect the parts of my beliefs which matter most to me.  Maybe that means Bible study.  Maybe church attendance.  Maybe activism of a more secular kind, or writing sermons regularly (there are websites that pay you for that one).  I don't want to be too mercenary about this, but the fact is that my faith is a help to me.  Maybe a crutch, and maybe a ladder -- it's possible to see it either way.  But I have to pursue epiphany, not just sit and wait for it (unless meditation turns out to be what I need to do).

Anyway. That's the plan.  Ten resolutions.
matt_doyle: (Default)
 New Year's is usually a time of relative isolation & contemplation for me, making these reflection & retrospection posts really easy to write.  Not so this year -- in fact it has been my busiest New Year ever, surrounded by friends and activity -- poker tournaments, D & D one-shots, movies, board games, parties, -- clearly not a bad thing, especially when my seasonal doldrums have attacked early.

My life in general has been like that lately -- too amiable and sociable for me to be as creatively productive as I would like.  The doldrums -- the depression, the sudden onslaught of anxiety attacks that cropped up this year -- have been a factor as well, obviously.  I didn't do very well at any of my resolutions from last year.  By an objective, goal-oriented standard, this year has been an utter failure for me.

So thank God, I'm not objective, I'm not goal-oriented, and I'm not alone.  Nasty as my emotional roller-coaster has been, it would have been worse (and my productivity too) were it not for the light and bustle of friends keeping me cheery.

Resolutions coming shortly.
matt_doyle: (philosophy)
 My resolutions last year:

1)  Blogging/Writing.  Continue blogging 5 days a week, but make an effort to get more interesting.  Write 550 words of original fiction every day.
2) Publishing/Gaming.  Start typing and self-publishing gaming supplements. 
3)  Track what books I read.  Both in order to review them, to complete the 50 Books POC challenge, and to appreciate my latest Christmas gift -- a 6 month subscription to Bookswim .
4)  Fitness.  As a first step toward getting in shape, I'm giving up soda again, cold turkey.  I'm going to try to reduce the amount of sugar in my coffee.  And once the weather allows it, I want to spend at least an hour a day walking.  
5)  Political aspirations.  All right, so I'm not going to be signing every petition that comes my way.  I can still pick at least one cause or current event each month that matters to me, blog about it, lobby for it, call my congresscritters, and see if there's any sort of personal difference other than rebroadcasting I can make.

Point by point, let's review:

1) I was steady in my blogging until September or October, and then more or less gave up completely.  I just didn't have it in me.  I've also mostly been microblogging on plurk.  Say, is there a plurk aggregate the way there's a Twitter aggregate?  Eh.  probably wouldn't use it, but I'm curious.

Bluntly, this is a failure, but it's one I don't really care about.  For whatever reason, daily blogging went from desirable to a chore to a touiil to flat-out abhorrent.  I would like to get back to occasional blogging, but daily?  Can't be arsed right now.

Writing.  I wrote 115,231 words this year.  That's far short of my goal, and it's short of last year... but it's still better than triple my wordcount in 2010 or any year before.  I can live with it.  When I post about my resolutions for this year I'll talk more about this, but in short, I'm not really disappointed in my 80,000 word shortfall.
2) Total fail.  I was too busy with other things.  This year, I'll just have to redouble my efforts.  I've sold my second LARP, locally, so I am making money for gaming-related pursuits, but this was still definitely something I fell down on.

3)  Like blogging, I did great for most of the year but I didn't stick with it.  This year, I'll try again.

4)  Fitness.  Well.  I've reduced the sugar in my coffee!  I walked... sometimes.  I'm back to drinking soda and unlikely to stop at the moment.  And I'm heavier and more out of shape than ever.  I'm not sure the New Years' Resolution model of goal-setting is helping me very much on this front, honestly, so I dunno what I'll be doing this year.  But I haven't given up the dream of getting under 200 pounds and a 36-inch waistline!

5)  I didn't really track this, but I was active, involved, and thoughtful over-all, and I got to work in canvassing again, which was as satisfying to my soul as it was punishing to my feet.

Still pondering how to handle it in the upcoming year.



Later today or tomorrow, I've got a new list of goals -- ten or twelve of them -- and some more reflective musings on the busy-ness of my life and the way my plans have changed and evolved.  I think I'm healthier (er, mentally) and happier now than I was last year, and I want to capitalize on that in ways that, since the cessation of my blogging daily, I haven't really told you about.

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