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New Schedule

I’m trying to establish a new schedule: Homeschool every day starting at 8 am, writing after. That means more days of the week w/ writing time in them, but the days won’t be as long.

And of course it all depends on how quickly I can get out the door.

Wish me luck.

Mirrored from Harry Connolly. You can comment here but not there.



You know how you can tell that I like a video game?

I don’t play it any more.

I bought the iPad version of Sentinels of the Multiverse last year, and I loved it so much I pre-purchased all the expansion packs. There’s a bit of a learning curve, but it’s good, obsessive fun.

Too much so, in fact, because it was interfering with my life. I found it difficult to resist sitting down to play a quick game, especially when I was tired at the end of the day. One game would turn into two, then three, then it was the ass end of the morning and I knew I’d ruined work for the next day. I knew it was claiming too much of my time, so I deleted it.

But the newest expansion pack has come out: Infernal Relics, the “magic” superheroes characters, and here I am downloading it again. I’ll give it a few weeks, learn some of the tweaks of the new characters, then delete it again. I’m sure I won’t get too obsessed this time. Right?

Mirrored from Harry Connolly. You can comment here but not there.


Black Man Arrested for Selling His Art

Update: I missed the date on this. It’s from last November. Thanks to Nick Mamatas for pointing that out. In March, a judge dismissed the charges. Still, that’s a lot of months lost to a prosecutor’s ambition.

Original Post: From San Diego, a local rapper by the name of Brandon Duncan faces life in prison for making and selling a CD of his music. Why?

Duncan is a member of a local gang that has been involved in a series of high-profile shootings, although Duncan himself has not been party to any of it. However, the shootings have raised the profile of the gang, and prosecutors allege that has helped Duncan sell copies of his album.

To be clear, he created a rap album. It has nothing to do with the shootings. He has nothing to do with the shootings, except for his gang affiliation. And yet, he’s in jail on $1 million bail until his December court date and he’s being charged along with 14 others.

Would they have charged him if he’d written a book? Seriously, would they have charged him if he’d written a book about gang life? I doubt it.

Duncan’s new album isn’t available but you can still buy a copy of his older work (as “Tiny Doo”) through iTunes or Amazon, if you like that sort of thing. Maybe that would help him afford bail.

Our judicial system is supposed to be adversarial so the truth can win out in a contest of equals. Sadly, we’ve spent decades changing the rules to benefit the state, and politically ambitious prosecuting attorneys know how well a tough-on-crime reputation plays with the voters. Frankly, I’d like to see government prosecutors receive a lifetime ban from holding another elective office, so they won’t feel the temptation to pad their resumes with the unjustly ruined lives of American citizens.

Mirrored from Harry Connolly. You can comment here but not there.


Three Things Make a Post

1. There’s less than 24 hours to take advantage of this Humble Bundle of books funded through Kickstarter. It’s an embarrassment of riches. Don’t miss out.

2. I have a Facebook page, where readers can keep up with my blog posts and other new, and a Facebook account, which is (mostly) for family and friends I know in real life. At this point, the account is utterly moribund. No one comments, no one shares or clicks “like”. As far as I can tell, no one sees what I put there.

That might be because FB is hiding my stuff. It might be that they’ve “hidden” my updates because they’re sick of my bullshit. Hey, half the time I’m sick of my bullshit, too. It doesn’t really matter. I’m going to scale way the hell back on what I post there.

3. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m working on a new book, called One Man. Unfortunately, the writing schedule that has served me so well over the last few years has to be ditched, and I haven’t found a new one that works. In fact, I don’t have any set schedule at all, just random day and hours when I can grab writing time. That’s fine for the short term, but it won’t work for me long term.

It still feels good to be moving forward on something new.

Mirrored from Harry Connolly. You can comment here but not there.

Today on the blog, author David B. Coe is going to talk about personal goals and finding success as a writer.

What does it mean to be a success in this business?

No, really, I’m asking. I’ve been in the business for nearly 20 years, and I’m not always certain I know. Sure, we recognize success when we see it. That guy George R.R. Martin — he seems to be pretty successful. And J.K. Rowling did okay. So maybe being successful means having initials in your name. In which case, I have arrived, baby! D.B. Jackson, the pseudonym under which I write the Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy set in pre-Revolutionary Boston, has two initials in it, which makes me every bit as successful as Martin and Rowling, though not quite on the level of Tolkien.

But somehow I’m not sure this is the best measure of achievement . . .

Joking aside, this is a question I’ve pondered quite a bit in recent years. Let me pause here to say that nothing I am about to write is meant as a complaint. I get to write stories for a living — I wouldn’t trade my job for anything. Moreover, I have been incredibly fortunate in my professional life. I know this. But I would be lying to you if I said that I didn’t want more out of my career.

Cover art Dead Man"s ReachI have two original novel-length releases coming out this summer. The first, DEAD MAN’S REACH, the fourth novel in my Thieftaker series, came out from Tor Books earlier this week under that D.B. Jackson pen name. And less than two weeks from now, Baen Books will publish HIS FATHER’S EYES, the second volume in The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, a contemporary urban fantasy I write under my own name, David B. Coe. (Only one initial there; I’m lagging . . .) That’s two novels, from two different publishers, under two names, which is pretty cool. Like I said, I’ve been fortunate. On top of that I’ve had several short fiction releases recently. I’m busy, and as any writer knows, busy is good.

So in that respect, I’ve been very successful. I keep writing, and folks keep publishing what I write. For a lot of aspiring writers, that’s the dream. But I don’t make the New York Times bestseller list, and I’d like to. My sales aren’t going through the roof, and I wish they would. I don’t make it onto award ballots — something I used to want, although I’m not sure anymore . . . ‘Nuff said.

My point is this: We all aspire to the next level, or the ones above that. I would like to have better numbers and a higher profile. I’m a midlist writer in an era in which the midlist seems to be wilting. But there are writers who have yet to sell to a major house, and others who have short story publications but no novel sales. Perhaps they look at a midlist position and think that would be pretty cool. Then there are others who have finished some stories and maybe even a novel, but are still waiting for the first professional credit. They might envy the success of those who have sold a story or two. And there are still others who know that they want to write, but still struggle to finish that first big project. You get where I’m going, right?

Cover art His Father"s EyesSo what are we to do? How do we nurture our ambitions while still taking satisfaction in our achievements? I believe we start by acknowledging the legitimacy of both. I don’t ever want to be seen as boasting or rubbing my success in anyone else’s face, and so often I downplay what I have achieved. But I’m proud of the novels I’ve written, of my critical track record, of the fact that I have survived in this business for the better part of two decades. And at the same time, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the fact that I want more, that I strive to break into the upper echelon of commercial success. And in the same way, I think that the aspiring author should celebrate when he or she finally finishes that first novel, and the short fiction writer should celebrate that first sale of a book-length project, even as both continue to eye their next goals. Ambition and pride both have their places.

All of this, though, is far easier to say than it is to do, at least for me. Because so many of the measurements we use to define writerly success are external. I might take pride in my books, but what happens to that pride when bad reviews come in? I’m pleased to have survived this long, but I know that commercial success is only as certain as the sales numbers for my most recent release. This is the nature of the business. We don’t get to say how successful we are. That’s for the rest of the world to decide. Or is it?

As much as we’d like to we can’t ignore those outside factors. Sales numbers matter. Rejections of stories and novels hurt, just as acceptances make our spirits soar. Bad reviews kind of suck, and good ones . . . Well, they don’t suck. But we can also self-define success by setting realistic goals and understanding that part of being successful means satisfying ourselves. I will do what I can to promote DEAD MAN’S REACH and HIS FATHER’S EYES; I want to sell as many copies of them as I can. I’ll enjoy the good reviews they’ve received already (and I’ll try to ignore any bad ones that come in). In many ways, though, I’m already satisfied with the achievement these books represent. I think they are the two best books I’ve written. I’ve always wanted to have two series running concurrently with two different publishers; now I’ve got that.

So I can say in all honesty that as far as these releases are concerned, I’ve already succeeded. I’m not so naïve as to think that the other things don’t matter. I simply understand that sales, reviews and the rest are, to varying degrees, beyond my control. Personal satisfaction in work well done — that’s mine, and no one can take it away.

As you pursue your writing goals, try to keep similar thoughts in mind. They won’t prevent the occasional setback — those are inevitable. But they will allow you to recognize your own achievements, and you deserve that.

Coe/Jackson Author PhotoDavid B. Coe/D.B. Jackson is the award-winning author of eighteen fantasy novels. Under the name D.B. Jackson, he writes the Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy from Tor Books that includes Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, A Plunder of Souls, and, the newest volume, Dead Man’s Reach, was released earlier this week, on July 21. Under his own name, he writes The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, a contemporary urban fantasy from Baen Books. The first volume, Spell Blind, debuted in January 2015. The newest book in the series, His Father’s Eyes, comes out on August 4. He lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.


Mirrored from Harry Connolly. You can comment here but not there.


J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the CenturyJ.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century by Tom Shippey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book 13 in #15in2015

It’s deeply pleasing to read about the language Tolkien uses in his work. Not the one he created, which this book barely touches on, but the old words, names, and place names that he drew on when he wrote.

Having studied in the same field at Professor Tolkien, the author is well-placed to talk about the complexities, structure, and foundation of Tolkien’s work. It’s clear he’s irritated at the literary critics who dismiss Lord of the Rings as having no value at all, but in his effort to prove them so completely wrong that they’ve missed the greatest work of the 20th Century, he presents an excellent argument for the artistic merit in Tolkien’s work.

Is Tolkien the “Author of the Century”? Well, no. Is his work powerful, complex, and of literary value? Absolutely. If you can bear to read through Shippey’s gripes about the literati and can skim through some tedious analysis of the professor’s lesser works, this book is a source of sublime pleasure.

Buy this book

Mirrored from Harry Connolly. You can comment here but not there.


Back to drafting new fiction

As I mentioned on Twitter, yesterday I wrote the first sentence of my next book. Here it is:

On the summer solstice in the year 402 of the New Calendar, Chatayzik ward-Safroy de-Safroy, admir-Safroy hold-Safroy slipped into his own funeral in disguise.

Actually, that’s a revised version of that first sentence, because first sentences get changed over and over.

I was planning to write a second sentence today (or maybe even two!) but my wife has injured her knee and I’m taking care of her. I still have time to type (obviously) but first chapters require a lot of concentration. But who knows, I might manage something later.

For the record, this is the first new novel fiction I’ve drafted since August, 2013. Since then, I’ve written some short fiction, revised the hell out of The Great Way and Key/Egg, and done endless promotional work, including 40+K worth of blog tour and 50K worth of game supplement. But no new novels.

It feels a) good and b) nerve-wracking. I’ve done this before, right? I don’t have to feel intimidated by my own work, right? Right.

Also, I’ve sold the audio rights to The Great Way. If you want to be notified when that becomes available, sign up for the newsletter in the sidebar of my blog.

Mirrored from Harry Connolly. You can comment here but not there.


HumbleBundle Progress

So, the books/Kickstarter HumbleBundle that started last Wednesday is creeping up on $55K. That’s pretty good, I’m guessing. They also gave me a widget to post:

Hmf. I don’t know that I like that one much. I mean, it shows the number of backers and the countdown, but not the work that’s being offered. It’s funny, adventurous, political, and simply beautiful to look at. And on the 22nd, more books will be added.

Also, the cost of the “average” level is continually going up. If you’re not getting the top tier stuff, it’s cost effective to buy in now.

Mirrored from Harry Connolly. You can comment here but not there.


A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Ant-Man

ANT-MAN is funny.

It’s not the most hilarious movie ever made, but it does rise above the typical poo-faces portentousness of most superhero films. Contrasted with the BATMAN V SUPERMAN trailer before it, it looks surprisingly friendly and human.

It helps that they include cameos from the most charismatic actors in other shows, but it’s not overloaded with them, the way AGE OF ULTRON was. It also helps that the show takes its absurd premise and has a good time with it.

Still, it’s missing much of Edgar Wright’s visual style, even if he is co-credited with the script. The sight gags are great, but the film also has a bit of that “Best Lines Improvised On Set” feel that modern comedies have. Unfortunately.

I’d compare it to WRECK-IT RALPH, a terrific movie that cam late in a trend of other terrific movies, when the genre wasn’t so shiny and new any more. It’s still a good movie, even if it doesn’t feel revelatory.

Important: There are *two* post-credit sequences.

Mirrored from Harry Connolly. You can comment here but not there.