Archive for April, 2011

Secret Good News: Hugo and Campbell Nominations

Monday, April 25th, 2011

If you were hanging out on Twitter or Facebook Sunday night, you may have seen a massive flood of excited announcements and joyful congratulations, coming and going and whizzing around on all sides. The Hugo nominations were being announced! I was nominated twice, and I was ecstatic, but I was not surprised–I’d already known for two weeks. Keeping it secret was maddening.

For the first leg of my book tour I stayed several nights with Mary Robinette Kowal and her husband in Portland, and one day between writing sessions we started talking about Hugo nominations–we knew they were coming soon, but we didn’t yet know exactly when, and since we were both eligible we were walking on eggshells. “The thing is,” said Mary, “they have to call ahead for every nominee to confirm that you’re eligible, and to ask if you want to recuse, so the nominees know early. This time of year you can start to figure out who’s been nominated just by watching Twitter for people saying ‘I have secret good news I’m not allowed to talk about.'”

Later that night she checked her email, laughed, and said “I have secret good news!” Her short story ‘For Want of a Nail’ had been nominated, so we went out for Thai food to celebrate (no specific thematic reason, we just all like Thai). And then began what we shall call “The Great Refreshening of Email.” I think I refreshed my email about 200 times over the next few days, but nothing appeared. Either I hadn’t been nominated for anything, or they were still making their way through the categories.

A few days later my time in Portland came to an end, and I woke up early to drive to San Francisco. I was about 2/3 of the way there when Brandon Sanderson called. “I assume you’re away from your email, because you’re not responding to the thread.”

“Yeah, I’m in the middle of nowhere on I-5, what’s going on?”

“Writing Excuses has been nominated for a Hugo for Best Related Work.”


“Yeah,” he said, “have you been nominated for anything else? You’re eligible for the Campbell this year.”

“I haven’t seen anything,” I said, but you can bet I pulled off the road and refreshed my email a few thousand more times just in case. Nothing. I drove the rest of the way to San Francisco, called my wife to tell her the news, and went for a walk in the rain just to force myself away from the Internet. It was really starting to drive me crazy.

The next day I signed in Borderlands, and afterward a nice young lady came up and asked if I could spare a few minutes for some questions. I said sure, and very quickly realized that the questions centered around the strong central theme of “are you eligible for a Campbell award?” the Campbell is not a Hugo, but it accompanies them; it the award for Best New Writer, and therefore has a very brief window of eligibility following the date of your first publication; two years after you’ve published something professionally, you’re not really a “new” writer anymore. My books came out in 2009 in Europe, so I was still legal, and my one previous short story publication had been in a small, non-professional student magazine, for which I wasn’t paid, so I fit all the criteria. It turned out that this was one of the award organizers, and she officially congratulated me: I had been nominated for the Campbell!

That was two weeks ago, and while I may have let the news slip to a couple of people here and there, I managed to keep my mouth pretty shut. One of my only nights home during that book tour included RPG night, and as we all sat down to play I turned to my friend Larry Correia. “Before we get started, I have to ask: do you have secret good news you’re not allowed to talk about until Sunday?”

“I don’t know,” he said, “do you have secret good news?” And then we both smiled, because we knew, and we congratulated each other for our secret good news. I’m honored to be sharing the Campbell category with him.

And now it’s public, and I couldn’t be happier.

I should also point out a few close other friends who’ve been nominated. First, of course, is my awesome editor, Moshe Feder, who’s been nominated for Best Editor, Long Form. Since his only authors publishing last year were Brandon and I, we’re justifiably proud of him. He’s an awesome guy and an awesome editor.

Eric James Stone, whose work I’ve been touting here for a while now, was nominated for Best Novellette for his story “That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made.” This story was also nominated for a Nebula, and it absolutely deserves all the hype, and it’s up for free on his website so go read it as soon as you can. It’s awesome.

I met Lauren Beukes at WorldCon in Montreal, back when we were both completely unheard of, and I became a fan within the first few pages of her novel Moxyland. She writes fast-paced, prophetic cyberpunk set in Johannesburg, plus she’s incredibly cool and very nice. As with Larry, I’m honored to be sharing the Campbell category with Lauren.

A week and a half later: Halfway through the book tour

Monday, April 18th, 2011

It’s been over a week since last I posted, and it’s interesting to look back and what’s happened during that time. For example, my son is still reading me a book about manatees, only this time he’s 8 instead of 7. The only constant is change.

The reason you’ve heard so little from me since the last post, both here on the blog and in venues like Twitter and Facebook, is twofold. First, after leaving Portland and driving to San Francisco–this being over a week into the tour–I was brain dead and ready to be done. I had several hours in my hotel in which I planned to do so many great and wonderful things, like maybe write some short stories and write a big blog post and do some revision on PARTIALS, but I just couldn’t do anything. I ended up staring at the walls–not even watching TV, literally staring at the walls. I walked the block to SF’s Chinatown and got some awesome food, then came back and collapsed into exhaustion. Alas. I managed to have plenty of energy for the signing at Borderlands, which went great, so that’s awesome. I love Borderlands, they’re one of my favorite stores; I was further gratified to see that their business is booming. Huzzah for the indie bookseller!

With a day and a half to recover in SF, I caught my second wind and headed to LA, where my ability to do work took its second enormous hit: my family showed up. The week I was scheduled to be in Southern California turned out to also be the week my children had Spring Break–and the week of my son’s birthday–so they drove down and met me and we spent the week in San Diego. Here’s a quick breakdown of the week:

Monday: Wake up in LA, hop in the car, make a quick stop at Vroman’s, drive to San Diego, have lunch in Old Town (the pozole at Barra Barra was amazing, but the chile colorado left something to be desired). We checked into our hotel, let the kids swim, and ate take out on the floor while watching rerun after rerun of Good Luck Charlie. I have since become convinced that Good Luck Charlie is the only show ever broadcast on the Disney channel, all day every day. I’m also beginning to understand why my wife hates the Disney channel so much.

Tuesday: We spent the morning at the Midway Museum–a decommissioned aircraft carrier crammed stem to stern with awesomeness. I thought my son would love this, but he walked through the halls pointing at ever picture and exhibit saying “dumb, dumb, dumb.” Finally we got to the part where there’s a bunch of cockpits you get to sit in, and a simulator where you can pretend to fly a jet, and he loved it. The afternoon and evening were spent at SeaWorld, which is way cooler than when I was a kid. We saw all the shows, got soaked to the bone by both whales and dolphins, and rode the roller coaster twice since the crowds were so thin you could walk right on without waiting. My daughter’s opinion: “The SeaWorld roller coaster is kind of like Splash Mountain, except instead of cute furry animals there’s a weird voice telling you to save the ocean.”

Wednesday: We walked approximately nine thousand miles in and around the San Diego Zoo. The lowlight were the tigers, who insisted on hiding every time we passed. The highlight were the rhinos, who were up and active and chasing each other and wrestling and frankly I’ve never seen any animal perform so entertainingly in a zoo, let alone a pair of animals as big and awesome as rhinos. My son still hated it, because he was determined to hate everything, but I could tell that secretly he enjoyed it against his will.

Thursday: This day was for the Safari Park, which I had never been to or even knew existed. It might be my favorite part of the trip. I was just so dang impressed with everything they were doing to help some incredibly endangered animals, by the end of the day I wanted to just throw money at every zookeeper I saw. There are only 7 Northern White Rhinos left in the entire world–only two males–and I got to see two of them. That means I saw about 30% of the Northern White Rhino population in the entire world. That’s amazing and humbling and terrifying all at once. That night I signed at the Borders in Mission Valley, a wonderful store with such a consistent, active, well-read staff they always feel like more of an indie than a chain, if I can say that without sounding insulting. As an author traveling and signing, I can always feel a distinct difference between the indies and the chains–at an indie store I show up, the staff knows me and says hi, we chat and have fun, and they invite me back. At most chains (not all) I’ll walk in, meander for a while trying to find a bookseller, introduce myself to a new hire I’ve never seen before, sign books while they hunt for the “autographed” stickers, and then smile and leave. The Mission Valley Borders is like walking into an indie, and I love that.

Friday: Back to Sea World, this time for the Sesame Street 4D show (chosen for the benefit of my two youngest, who refused to watch it anyway, but that’s okay because it was dumb) and for the Penguin and arctic exhibits. Don’t bother with the motion-simulator ride at the Wild Arctic exhibit, but definitely go check out the animals. The polar bear was asleep (though my wife was there at exactly the right time to watch him stand up, poop, and go back to sleep), but the walrus was awake and active and amazing. First of all he’s huge, just gargantuan–easily as big as some of the elephants we saw the day before–and then he came right up to the window to eat, his whiskers pressed up against the glass just a couple of inches from our faces. I could have watched him for hours, but I had to get to one of my other favorite bookstores, Mysterious Galaxy. Where so many other stores are failing, chain and indie alike, Mysterious Galaxy is expanding to a second location (Redondo Beach), and with good reason. They know their genre backward and forward, they’re extremely nice and friendly and talkative, and people simply love to go there. After the signing a big group of us went out to a Japanese place (Ichiro’s) and talked for several hours. It was great.

Saturday: The weather was great, so we took the kids to Balboa Park, listened to them whine about how they couldn’t walk another step, then took them to the beach where they ran around like maniacs for five or six hours. My two eldest children told me they’d put sunscreen on, then proceeded to burn to a crisp, which is how they learned the valuable lesson of Not Lying to Dad. We played in some tide pools, hung out with some cousins we love but rarely see, and I skinned a large chunk of my knee clean off learning to skimboard. I never did get the hang of it. Dinner was a 14 person party (8 of whom were children) at a big restaurant that obviously had very little experience with parties of that size and composition. Say what you will about Utah, you show up at a restaurant with 8 kids and they doggone know what to do with you.

Now I’m spending today and tomorrow trying to catch up on as much work as I can before heading back out: I’ll be in Baltimore on Wednesday, Atlanta on Thursday, and Minneapolis on Saturday. The “big group hangs around after the signing and goes to eat somewhere” plan has worked really well so far, so we’ll continue it at all of these events–if you want to say hi, ask about writing, tell me how much you love/hate my books, yak about roleplaying, or anything else, come on by.

Book Tour and NaShoStoMo Updates

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

So my book tour is going very well. The book launched one week ago, and my two events in Utah were fantastic; my signing at the Orem B&N was the biggest I’ve ever had, and things are going well. Thursday morning I woke up early and drove to Seattle, which takes about 13 hours including stops for gas. People always ask if I use my road trips to listen to audiobooks, but I have a travel game I love too much to do anything else: I flip through the radio stations at random, seeing how long it takes me to figure out if each new one is Christian or not. My record so far is two and a half heavy metal songs before I realized it was a Christian heavy metal station. What audiobook could possibly compete with that? (Aside from my own, of course; go buy it now.)

My brother happened to be in Seattle for a job interview, and I got there early enough to meet him for dinner: raw oysters on the half shell, one of my absolute favorites and something he’s only just now getting introduced to. We both loved it. The next day I had a signing at the University Bookstore, which I was almost late to thanks to a deluge of rain causing significant slowdown on the freeways. “Deluge of rain causing X” is kind of an ongoing theme for this tour, as it didn’t stop raining for pretty much the entire three and a half days I spent in Seattle; we may have gotten three or four rainless hours total. Seattle is one of my favorite cities in the world, but it was really going out of its way to live up to its weather’s reputation last weekend. The signing itself was awesome, with a great discussion followed by a fantastic meal with local readers at The Night Kitchen. My decision to eat dinner with a big group of readers after every signing has been awesome, and I will carry it forth for the foreseeable future–if you’re in town for any of the rest of my signings (listed on the calendar to the left of this text), please join me afterward for dinner and scintillating conversation. Thus far, no one has died at any of these events.

The weekend itself was LDS General Conference, which doesn’t mean much to those of you who are not LDS, but it’s basically a series of five two-hour meetings broadcast over satellite by the Church’s top leaders to the entire membership. We do it every six months, but this one was especially awesome. I really loved it.

On Monday I woke up to a phone call from my editors at Harper, and we talked for three solid hours about my draft of Partials and their notes for the rewrite. This feels almost more like a collaboration than a typical authorship, and my two editors are very much involved on every level of the creative process. It’s been awesome. Finishing that I did several more business-y things, grabbed some steamed pork hombow from my favorite Chinese Bakery (Mee Sum in Pike’s Place Market), and headed south to Portland. Once again, the rain made the roads slow, and the drive became downright terrifying in more than one instance when a big truck started kicking up enough water I felt like I was driving through an aquarium. I arrived safely, and the signing was awesome–nearly as big as the one in Orem–followed by, again, a truly fantastic dinner with local readers. We had an awesome time.

I’m staying in Portland with Mary Robinette Kowal and her husband, and so far we’ve managed to threaten each other with death only two or three times each. They’ve been very accomodating, and Mary makes a mean peach cobbler, and in just a few minutes we’re off to watch True Grit. But first I’m on the phone listening to my son read my a book about manatees.

As promised, I’ve been writing a short story every day this month for NaShoStoMo. They have been unilaterally awful, but I’d like to think they’ve been at least getting better as I go. the list thus far is kind eclectic to say the least:

April 1: The Cat Lady. A woman tries to convince her weird old mom to start cleaning up her house and yard and get rid of her many cats.
April 2: Standoff. A mercenary cowboy and two deadly gunslingers try not to die.
April 3: Memory. A scientist experiments with a memory drug on a patient.
April 4: The Volunteer. A new story starting with the same basic premise as the last one.
April 5: Old Things. My attempt to come up with a story based on looking around Mary’s house, seeing her collection of old typewriters, and somehow combining that with the Cthulhu mythos.

I will continue to write and keep you updated. I’m really learning a lot.