I am attending Chicon8, this year’s World Science Fiction Convention where I will be appearing in eight programeroj. I’m extremely grateful to the Worldcon organizers who’ve given me an excellent opportunity to debut as a new author.

I will be moderating three panels: Words Count: To Go Long or Short With Your Book Manuscript?, Relaxing Reads, and LGBTQIA+ Characters Done Right. And I will be a panelist on two more panels: Anime Is Not a Genre and Get More Mileage from Maps. These are all areas where I have deep interest and might actually be able to offer a small contribution.

I will hold a “Table Talk” where people can chat and ask me questions and I will participate in a reading with other authors from The Truck Stop at the Center of the Galaxy.

Finally, along with the legendary Dr. Vanessa MacLaren-Wray I will be helping offer a workshop: Manuscript Boot Camp: Get Ready for Grinder.

In addition, I will be helping run a dealer table for The Small Publishing in a Big Universe Marketplace. When I’m not in a session, I will probably hang out around the table to sell and sign books. But if you’re looking for me, I’ve tentatively signed up for 1pm every day (except Monday).

And if you’ve read this far, I’ll further mention I’ve got a special giveaway I’ll be bringing in limited numbers to pass out. I’ll include them with copies of my books. But if you ask, I could probably be persuaded to part with one separately.

One year ago, I attended Readercon 31 and met Water Dragon Publishing. What a year it’s been. In my Year in Writing 2021, I wrote about my early experiences with Water Dragon. But when I wrote that in December, I still only had the single publication: The Third Time’s the Charm.

Since then, in consultation with the managing editor, I was able to persuade Water Dragon to serialize 6 following novelettes that extend Charm totaling about 70,000 words that we have called “Revin’s Heart“. So far two of the novelettes, For the Favor of a Lady and Storm Clouds Gather, have been released β€” and the manuscript for Crossing the Streams has been submitted. The rest are written and will continue to come out over the rest of this year and the first half of next year. Eventually, I anticipate that we’ll collect them together in a fix-up novel. I have also written three “side stories” about characters from the universe that we can include in the novel.

I am fully cognizant that relatively few authors (and vanishingly few new authors) have the opportunity to be serialized. And I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity to tell the story my way. I had a variety of reasons for wanting to do this. Partly, I found the 10,000 word novelette was a comfortable unit for telling these stories. Partly, I think I’ve also been influenced by reading manga and “light novels” that are often serialized in Japanese media that are more episodic in nature than a lot of American storytelling seems to be. But partly, I also saw an opportunity to engage with the public over the course of a whole year rather than publishing a book in a single event. But Revin’s Heart hasn’t been my only work.

On Tuesday, August 16, Better Angels, my first story set on the Truck Stop at the Center of the Galaxy will be released. It was fascinating to try writing for a common setting developed by a group of authors. In November, Something Else To Do, will be released in Modern Magic, an anthology by Knight Writing Press. And I have another story, Imaginary Friends, appearing in The Future’s So Bright anthology. And several other projects in the works, including a new novel “A Familiar Problem“. It’s been quite a year.

And I’m not just writing. I’ve also joined a local writing community, the Straw Dog Writer’s Guild, serving on the Program Committee. I’m serving as a guest interviewer for the Small Publishing in a Big Universe podcast. I’m even offering some technical support for Water Dragon.

Capping my experience, during the first week in September, I’m appearing as a participant in Chicon8, this year’s WorldCon β€” the world’s premiere science fiction convention β€” in 8 separate events. I’m moderating three panels, participating in two more, offering a “table talk”, reading with other Truck Stop authors, and helping to offer a workshop. What was I thinking? It’s going to be super exciting to meet with other authors and engage with readers.

As soon as I return β€” literally the next day β€” I will need to hang up my author hat for a while and focus on my “day job” for the fall semester. But I’m excited to see what will happen next.

I wrote this piece of flash fiction during the winter. It didn’t get accepted, but I was pleased with it as I felt like it hit pretty close to what I was aiming for.

I snuck a glance at him, longingly. Michael, my childhood friend, had returned from university for the New Year. He walked beside me, our hands almost brushing. We passed under the torii, the red gate that marked the entrance, and climbed the stone steps to the tiny, countryside shrine. Light snow overnight had given way to clear skies. The sun had melted nearly all of the snow except where it lingered in the shadows.

We passed the komainu, the guardian lion dogs, and approached the offertory box. After we deposited our coins, we bowed, prayed, and clapped twice.

“What did you pray for?” I asked, as we started back down the path toward the stairs. 

“I prayed that I could be more honest with myself this year.”

“Ah,” I said, looking down. “I prayed for courage: that I might be brave enough to share my feelings with the one I like.” 

“I’m sure you’ll find the courage, William,” he said.

I swallowed hard.

“Michael,” I said, turning, but looking at his shoes, afraid to look at his face. “I… I have feelings for you.”

He reached down and took my hand. I looked up and my heart skipped a beat. His smile was like the sun, shining deep into the darkest places of my spirit and thawing what had long been frozen. 

“I know,” he said. “I’ve always known. I just couldn’t admit it to myself.”

We descended the stairs, hand-in-hand.

I’ve been using the #vss365 and #flexvss hashtags to write fragments of a new Revin story that happens after the events of Revin’s Heart. These parts are set on Devishire.

I’ve been using the #vss365 and #flexvss hashtags to write fragments of a new Revin story that happens after the events of Revin’s Heart. These parts are set on Devishire.

First a rather long digression. When I reached a certain level of prominence in my career, I started receiving invitations to speak at seminars, conferences, and Esperanto congresses. My CV astonishingly lists almost two dozen such instances.

At some point, I discovered that being an invited speaker transformed my experience of attending a conference. As a attendee β€” or even a regular speaker β€” I would have a tendency to sit off to the side by myself and, if people came over to talk to me, that was fine. But I might attend a whole conference where I literally spoke to no-one.

Even that was a success for me because I’m rather painfully introverted. Just making myself attend at all was a huge success. Even sitting in the corner and watching everyone else network and not just running screaming from the room, was a win for me.

Being an invited speaker made a huge difference. All of a sudden I had a role! I was there for a reason! There was an expectation that everyone would want to meet and talk with me. It was wild!

In point of fact, my behavior didn’t really have to change. Even if I sat in the corner, people would come over to me to chat with me. But I found that I didn’t need to. The added confidence of being the invited speaker was enough to enable me to put myself out there. I could just walk up and introduce myself to people! I could mingle and chat with people just like a normal person. It was amazing!

At some point, I realized that my earlier difficulty was entirely in my head. If I could get my head into the right place β€” even without an invitation β€” I could behave the same way. I could walk in, introduce myself to people, mingle, etc. just like a Real Boy.

That’s totally not to say that this is what I actually do when I’m not an invited speaker. If anything, I’m even worse than I was before. I know that I could put myself out there, but I don’t. I still have a tendency to go sit in a corner and just wait for people to chat with me. Some people have accused me of waiting for people to come “kiss my ring.” Whatever. And I mean that in the best way: Whatever it takes for me to get myself there is what works.

But!

But now I’m a published author. And as I’m preparing to head to my first Worldcon β€” and first face-to-face conference as an author β€” I’m steeling myself to put myself forward. And I’m reflecting on how to leverage all my experience as an invited speaker to not just sit on the sidelines but, instead, be a full and active participant.

I’m really excited. It’s a kind of reverse imposter syndrome where I’m pretending I’m a normal, well-adjusted person who belongs in the spotlight β€” and not some freakish troglodyte that should stay in the shadows. Yeah. Yeah! I’ve got this.

After trailing a notorious trafficker across the galaxy, a self-appointed guardian angel arrives at the Truck Stop.

Hidden within the trafficker’s cargo hold may be just what he needs to shut down the trafficker’s illicit trade for good.

Readers always seem interested to know where story ideas “come from.” I have no good answer to that question. But this is the person whose wife says, “Did you put the pickles back?” and I reply, “Did you ask where I put your stickleback?” I can’t help it. That’s just what my brain does.

This story is sort of like that. I imagined the circumstances and the rest of the story just followed from that initial premise.

I was pleased to write a science fiction story, although perhaps “space opera” is a more appropriate term. Or maybe “space doujinshi.”

I’m super happy with the cover by the astonishing Niki Lenhart. We went through several rounds of revisions to get all the details right, and I could not be happier with where we ended up.

I was extremely gratified when my story was selected to be published for the Truck Stop at the Center of the Galaxy. I hope everyone will enjoy reading it when Better Angels is released by Water Dragon Publishing on August 16th.

I attended Queer Publishing 101, part of OutWrite 2022 by the DC LGBTQ Literary Festival, a discussion with an interesting and diverse panel of queer editors and authors. The event was a preview of the weekend-long festival coming up August 5-7. It provided a variety of complementary perspectives driven primarily by audience questions. I asked two questions:

I’m interested to hear about the crossover between queer publishing & publishing generally: I’ve seen perceptions that they’re extremely balkanized: how separate are they from your perspective(s)?

This is similar to a question I asked at Lambda Literary and the answer, which surprised me, is that people in queer publishing see it as fundamentally disjunct from traditional publishing. “There is a lot of work to be done in terms of that representation.” And “There is not a lot of crossover.”

The role of small press and indy publishing was highlighted: “We have very few doors opened to us. Go where you are loved.” and “Indy is where the radical queer work is happening. Books pushing into mainstream can get sanitized.”

My own naive experience was that I wrote a steampunky fantasy novelette, The Third Time’s the Charm, with a trans protagonist and prominent gay supporting characters. And a small press, Water Dragon Publishing, picked it up and then doubled down by serializing Revin’s Heart β€” another 6 stories about the characters. (Part Three, Storm Clouds Gather, just came out!) They’re not an outlet that specializes in queer publishing, by any means. (Although I would remiss if I didn’t mention that they also publish the Grimaulkin series which also has queer characters).

What are the best ways for an indy press author (like me) to promote their queer books?

There were a lot of good answers here β€” these are the notes I took.

  • Be really creative
  • Traditional press may have more resources
  • Publisher may provide marketing to help
  • Work with publisher to determine how they can support you during the first 12 months
  • Help with book tour? Find conferences to attend? Make you a vendor?
  • You’re in charge of a lot of your promotion
  • It can be lonely
  • Network: find people excited to help you
  • Partner at readings
  • Doing it with your friends will make it better
  • Community is the most helpful thing
  • Bookstores and more
  • Tap into the world you know
  • Its a lot work
  • You’ll never think you’re doing enough
  • Identify five things you’d like to accomplish
  • Be realistic
  • Social media is important (twitter, booktok, bookstagram, etc)
  • Don’t pressure yourself to do it all
  • Choose one to two that you can do sustainably
  • You need a website
  • Gather emails
  • Put an email or contact form so people can reach you

A constant refrain was to cultivate patience. You’re playing a long game. Don’t try to rush things: Don’t query until you’re ready. Don’t be so eager that you accept a bad deal or compromise on your principles. Know what you want for your work and from your publisher. Sometimes “no” is the right answer.

I was glad I attended. Many thanks to Emily Holland, Chris Gonzalez, Lauren Cherelle, Saint Gibson, and Shelly Romero for their time and insight!

I’ve been using the #vss365 hashtag to write fragments of a new Revin story that happens after the events of Revin’s Heart. These parts are set on Devishire.

I’ve been using the #vss365 hashtag to write fragments of a new Revin story that happens after the events of Revin’s Heart. These parts are set on Belleriand.