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Comms

Show me your army – Win an advance copy of JAVELIN RAIN!

By | Comms | 5 Comments

So, I got a box of these the other day. It’s more exciting, in some ways, then actually holding the finished copy of the book in your hand. An Advanced Read Copy (ARC), is the first bound, copyedited version of the book you’ve labored for the past year to bring to life. Holding it, flipping through actual pages, experiencing a thing with weight and substance and smell (I can always tell my people because they love the musty smell of paper), knowing that everything is locked in and THIS is the version that people will get to read . . . well, it’s sublime. It’s the moment you turn to your girlfriend and say, “Honey! I made a book!” And then you enjoy it for about 30 seconds and go sit down at your computer. Because it’s time to start on the next one. So, yeah. It’s an amazing experience, and I’d like to share it with you. I’m setting aside…

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You are not crying in the wilderness

By | Comms | 3 Comments

Came home the other day to a letter. It was from a fan (and now a friend) I know from Twitter. We’d traded jokes and thoughts online, but only in the haphazard, passing way of Twitter and Facebook, part of the rushing stream. The letter came with a bottle of some of the best small-batch bourbon I’ve ever tasted, and a small canister of beard balm, which she makes. These gifts are great, but they pale in comparison to the letter, which I’ll quote from here: “When you stepped away from your military family, for me it was like reliving my own departure from the grip of the U.S. Army. . . The things you wrote about before, during and after the transition . . . the confusion that politics make duty, the pull to a creative life, the change of a world view brought on by war and all that it is, touched me more than you can know….

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What it means to be a bully

By | Comms | 3 Comments

I posted earlier about my experience reading Dame Veronica Wedgwood’s The Thirty Years War. As the initial impetus to read it was Ta-Nehisi Coates’ essay Wallenstein is Dead, I figured he was up next. I’ve been following Coates’ short work fairly consistently in The Atlantic, but this was the first time I’d read him in a longer form. The purpose of this essay isn’t to review Between the World and Me, so suffice to say that it affected me even more deeply than the Wedgwood, and the Wedgwood made me feel like I’d been hit by a bus. Between the World and Me is about a lot of things, but what it is most about is identity, not just the construction of the self, but the lies we must tell to maintain it. I was raised to self-awareness, and a lifetime on the therapist’s couch has taught me to tune my hearing to the internal tics that sketch out the…

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Show AND Tell – Rules for Writing

By | Comms | 2 Comments

This blog has been a lot of personal ruminations and discussions of day job stuff lately, so I want to talk for a moment about writing craft. A lot of writing blogs are focused on discipline, inspiration and other tangentials, and very few discuss nuts and bolts of how to write well. This is because art is incredibly subjective (the best definition I’ve ever read is “Any activity not specifically focused on survival or reproduction”), and therefore defies rules-based architecture and ontology. This makes teaching art problematic. When there is no “right” way to do a thing, it becomes challenging to relate how best to do it to others. Let me give an example here. My first source of writing “rules” was the Turkey City Lexicon. It’s a primer for SF writing workshops, and it presents a lot of hard and fast regulations for good writing, all of which are highly quotable, incredibly useful and totally wrong. The one here…

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For Ta-Nehisi Coates and the ghost of Veronica Wedgwood

By | Comms | 5 Comments

This one’s a little dark. Not a cry for help, just a reflection. At the recommendation of essayist Ta-Nehisi Coates, I went out and got myself a copy of Veronica Wedgwood’s The Thirty Years War. It’s the kind of narrative history that I love, built on a strong foundation of primary sources, yet with a dramatic flair that keeps it from being a dry recitation. I loved this book. I’m onto her monograph on the trial of Charles I next. But reading it also left me feeling like I’d been run over by a train, and that’s what I want to talk about here. I’ve written a lot of . . . grapplings with what I did in Iraq. They’re here for public scrutiny because I write to communicate, but they’re also letters to myself, exercises to help me claw my way to some kind of understanding of this giant purple gorilla of a thing that’s stamped on history and…

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