Monday, June 26, 2017

June newsletter

[Cross-posted at Patreon.]
June newsletter
Jun 26 at 10:58am
Hello, friends and patrons!  Welcome to the newsletter for June 2017.  This one was intended to be a little shorter than the May one, but . . . You're welcome? 
Anyway, if the prospect of reading farther than two paragraphs is daunting, here's the TL; DR version.  1) Arrivederci barbarossa! 2) Long pig! 3) Patronapalooza yay! 4) Wonder Woman! 5) Cookies yum! 6) JDP writes!
Also, this computer has UNLIMITED EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!
Let's go already!

DECIDERS vote : The poll last week was to decide what I should do with my facial hair for the next six months. My precious face, the plaything of your aggregate wills.  Who else gives you that kind of power? 
Anyway, the results are in.  I'm going to play both sides of the TV talking head contrarian duo and say both that the vote was a close one (Decided by one vote!) and a blowout (33% margin of victory).  You guys can argue about which of me is right in the comments.  In any event, the verdict is: 
And so, obedient to your commands, I shall wear no facial hair until at least Christmas.  And as I accept my sentence, I realize that it is a far, far better thing that I do with my face than I have ever done.  
Also: Some things should not be left to the hive mind.

Upcoming Story of the Month : For July, I've picked out a really special story-- the very first story I actually got paid for.  "Long Pig" is a little slice of dungeon-crawling life, and it was first published in
Bards and Sages Quarterlyin 2013.  And (in keeping with the zeitgeist) it features a powerful warrior woman who has been the heroine of several of my stories.
Elke is a tomb-raiding mercenary, trapped by a cave-in.  She and her treacherous business associates know they're running out of candles, but they don't know that they're also running out of time.  When everything goes dark, who will survive long enough to dig their way back into the light? 
Read the tale right here on Patreon, July 10.

Report on the inaugural Patronapalooza :  Last month we held the very first Patronapalooza.  It may make me sound vain, but I must confess that I was hoping that this brand new holiday  I created completely ex nihilo would go viral-- and it did!  
In fact, it was so successful that it emitted a festive burst of tachyon particles which traveled back in time and caused people to begin celebrating even before I invented it completely by myself and very originally!  So, well done, patrons.  You partied so hard you broke the space-time continuum.  Excellent. 
As part of the festivities, I made audio recordings of the first few chapters my work-in-progress novel The Mundanes and put them up on YouTube.  They're gone now, but like Brigadoon they'll be back in a hundred years.  Or in the last week of July, when we'll be celebrating our second Patronapalooza.  Hooray!
(Details to follow in next month's newsletter.) 

Movie review : Thanks once again to the best in-laws in the world, my very own warrior queen and I got away to watch Wonder Woman. And despite popcorn which had been sitting under the warming lights since the days when Lynda Carter wore the tiara, we had a blast!
Gal Gadot completely inhabited the role, thanks in part to the best costume for Diana ever.  She perfectly walked the balance between sunny (perhaps even naive) idealism and fiery determination.  (Why can't we have a Superman like this?)  
And she was funny!  Not a quality I usually associate with WW, but I loved it.  Her hilariously, adorably awkward scenes  with Chris Pine were absolutely my favorite parts of the film.  (Plus, I loved pretending he was Captain James T. Kirk on a secret mission to help save Earth's past.) Forget a movie sequel.  I want a weekly Lois & Clark style TV show so we can really spend some time with these two.  
(Yes, I know he got blowed up.  Which, spoiler alert on that, I guess.  But it's a comic book movie.  And he died off screen.  And we didn't see the body.  Totally still alive.)
My only nit to pick is that, as a war nerd, I really wanted this to work as a World War I movie.  And on the strategic level, it does not.  At all.  One single trench between Allied forces and German High Command?  In 1918?  And breaching that lonely trench line to liberate an occupied town results in ZERO reinforcements arriving--either from the Central Powers or the Allies?  
I know this is a cartoon movie about superfriends, but I couldn't suspend my disbelief enough to get past the utter ridiculousness of the war scenes.  Which is a shame, because there were some moments that really captured the brutal, desperate pointlessness of the Great War-- plus lots of great Amazon butt-kicking!  (Pow! Take that, bell tower!)
Rated 4/5 wonders, with a half-wonder subtracted for the extreme telegraphed obviousness of Remus Lupin's supposed-to-be-surprising face-heel turn.  Come on, now.  The man is a werewolf.  Of course he's a bad guy.

Life updates : The best part about moving so far is cookies.  See, we need to clean out our cabinets, and clearly that means using up all that excess sugar and flour we have lying around.  Also chocolate chips.  
Plus, baking cookies makes the house smell like someone just baked cookies.  It's a subtle way to get prospective buyers to subconsciously associate this homely house with comfort,  warmth, family, and adult-onset diabetes.  That's your perfect storm of happiness right there.
In other news, our little Seabee is starting to make the most adorable human-like sounds.  Here's a picture of that.
Above: The sound of cuteness. Also pictured, the smell of cookies.  
Oh!  And the image at the top of this newsletter is the new and improved logo for my writing business, now in glorious Extra Color!  Many thanks to the lovely and talented Matt Malo, whose art is amazing and everybody should hire him.  

Accountability : Speaking of money being exchanged for goods and services, let's talk about what your patronage is buying-- besides Matt's awesome art.
Frankly, I probably should have done this from the very start, with the first newsletter, but that's why pencils have erasers.  So, starting this month, the newsletter will include a very brief report on the writing your patronage has been supporting.  There are at least three objective-ish ways to measure this, viz.: 
1. New words: In terms of raw productivity, I've pounded out roughly 7,000 words in the last month or so.  That translates to about 28 pages, or a little less than a page a day.  
2. Works completed: "Soul Invictus," a short story to follow my novel The Crown and the Dragon.  I plan to submit it to an upcoming anthology, and also to use it as the prologue to C&D's sequel, which I'd like to write next year. 
3. Submissions:  I had a plan to submit something every single working day in June, or to try until every story I have in my stable was out somewhere. I didn't make that goal, but as Dean Wesley Smith says, I failed to success by aiming for the stars and still hitting a pretty high mark.  My totals: 7 submissions of short stories for publication, 3 form rejections, 2 personal rejections, and 0 acceptances.  Not too shabby, actually.  (My typical acceptance rate is something like five percent; it's a numbers game.)
All in all, I'd like to be able to report greater productivity and success, but considering everything we have going on right now, I'll take it. 
Which is probably as good a note as any to end on. 
So, for your encouragement and support as I develop my skills,  thank you, my friends. 
Stay thirsty.

Monday, May 22, 2017


Greetings, imaginary readers!

Even though you are pretend, I feel you must have noticed that there has not been a lot of blogging here as of late. Well, we've been in kind of a busy season for the last many seasons.  And to be honest, I'm not sure that this blog is ever going to climb up to the top of my priorities list again-- especially given that I also have an author blog and now a Patreon page up and running.

But since my Patrons are owed a newsletter, I thought I might post it here as well.  So... welcome to the news update for the month of May!

What's new?  The first bit of news is that I have a new Patreon page.  Which, I don't think I've talked about here.  But if you know me, you've probably seen me yammering about it on Facebook.

If you haven't checked it out yet, do yourself a favor and head over there.  Lots of good stuff-- writing, art, behind-the-scenes extras-- some of which is available only to patrons.  For example, patrons who pledge two dollars a month get a new short story every month, plus access to the vault of previous Patreon stories.

But the newsletter is always going to be both free and public. This means if you want to keep up with what's happening with me and my writing, you don't have to be a patron. You don't even have to give me your email address for a mailing list-- you can find it on Patreon (or here, maybe).  If, however, you would like the newsletter to be emailed to you every month automatically, just go to my Patreon page click on the button that says FOLLOW at the top left of the page.  (It's free.)

From now on, there are a few things you should expect to see in news updates like this one.  There will be some stuff about the Patreon page.  For instance, I'll always look back to the previous week and reveal the result of the monthly Deciders vote. Likewise, I'll look forward by announcing which story is going to be posted here the first week of next month. And if there's an upcoming Patronapalooza, I'll also talk about that.

If I have a book or story coming out, the newsletter will announce it and provide links to order or preorder. I'll also talk about what's going on in my life, whether big stuff (we had a baby!) or small (we saw a movie!). And I'll always throw in some pictures.

So, are we ready? Great! Here we go!

Deciders vote PLUS Patronapalooza :Last week, patrons at the Decider level and up voted on what we should do for Patronapalooza. (It's a week long special event we'll have every month with 5 Mondays.) There were lots of good options (which you may see again in July) but the final vote was unanimous.

So, next week I will give "every patron access to an audio recording (1-2 hours) of the first three or four chapters of a current work in progress."  And what is that work?  It's a novel, tentatively titled The Mundanes:
A sinister alien entity threatens humanity.  Earth's mightiest heroes are our only hope.  And unless Nikki Nelson can file their taxes before the 15th, there will be penalties not to exceed 25% of the total unpaid taxes.  Biff!  Pow!  Doom!
It's a superhero book where ordinary people save the day-- and it's been so much FUN to write.  Man, I can't wait to share this with all of you.  I've already started doing some recording, and it's coming out really well (especially considering that I have no special recording studio, etc.).

But don't sleep on this.  When Patronapalooza is over, the audio files will shortly vanish into the mist like Darkmoon Island.  So if you're curious about what I've been writing, go pledge a dollar and listen to the first few chapters.

Upcoming story of the month : On Monday, June 5th, a new short story will be posted over on Patreon for all supporters at the Reader level ($2/month) and up.  This month, I've chosen a story called "Lullaby," which was published last year in Dragon Writers: An Anthology.

It's about a mommy and daddy dragon who are trying to get their hungry babies to quiet down and go to sleep.  I wrote it on nights when I was rocking my own noisy and rambunctious little one, so it's got a lot of my heart and soul in it.  Plus: ravenous, rampaging dragons.  Raaaaarrrrr!!!

Life and such : This reminds me that we’ve actually got a lot of change on the horizon for Casa de Payne. And some change that’s already here, and pooping.

A baby. We had a baby. (See how cute?)

Also, last week I turned in the grades for my final semester of teaching at the university. After a lifetime spent on one side of the desk or another, I am leaving academia.

I will miss teaching in a university setting, but my new career of dad/writer has been awesome on the balance. In my first week, I've had twice as many awesome writing days (4) as days I had to change my clothes and shower because of baby barf (2). Frankly, I can't believe how lucky I am to be joining the stay-at-home dad club. (See above picture.)

This change should also give me a lot more time to write. I've got two novels in the works, and if I can keep my pace up I will finish both by the end of the year. Hooray!

Our final change is that we are moving to New Mexico, where my darling wife will be starting a new job. We have loved Texas and we're worry to leave it, but fortunately we'll be just an hour or so across the border. So any time we want our stars at night to be big and bright, we'll be in easy driving distance.

As we prepare for a big move and lots of other big changes, we're grateful to live in a time when it's so easy to keep in touch with friends and family across the world.  Thank you all for your support and well-wishing.  And please keep an eye out for next month's update on my Patreon page.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Movie review: World's best in-laws edition

As a birthday present to me, my awesome in-laws watched the kiddos so the Queen of Eternia and I could go out and see Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2. (Thank you, J+L!) Following both the scientific method and my heart, I have arrived at a rating of 4/5 Galaxies. A delightful romp full of explosions and lasers and funny lines.  Loved it!

Two disappointments keep this from reaching the lofty heights of the first installment. First, the incomparable Kurt Russell, though wonderful in his early scenes, was boring after the face/heel turn. Not a memorable villainous moment or line, just a super dumb Saturday morning cartoon cliche. Boo.

Second, one of the great surprises of the first was that it made me care about a CGI raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper. This one gave him a stupid tacked-on Hollywood phony character arc that left me literally yawning with rage. Damn you, Gunn brothers, for giving me such a gift and then taking it away from me. Double boo.

That said, everybody else was just as lovably amoral as in the first one except Yondu and Drax were even better. And I loved the new addition of the gross bug-lady, who I hope we will see more of in future films which will also star a surly teenage Groot. (But not Sylvester Stallone, who was bleah.)