Back In the Saddle

Some of you may have noticed that my website was down for a couple of months. I apologize for that, particularly if a link went dead for a while, but I ran into some financial problems and renewing the hosting plan for my site was not a critical expense.

I managed to get back on my feet with the help of a Patreon campaign, which has helped me to keep some food on the table and slowly turn the lights back on in my life, one bill at a time. I’m extremely grateful for my campaign supporters, and I’ve been posting fiction, poetry, e-books, music and game writing to thank them, but there is more to come. I’ve got a lot of writing that’s cooking right now and honestly I’m working hard enough that I’m getting very tired. :)

 

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Throwback Thursday – Tarka Desktop, 2006

TarkDesktop

 

Just a little blast from the past–a desktop poster from the original Sword of the Stars, 2006. It’s difficult to find on-line nowadays, but it will be hosted here, and on my Patreon page. :)

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We Can Do It!

war-arm-for-webTimes are changing for me, my team and my industry. I need to change with them, and start working and creating in new ways, if I want to be able to keep writing.

Finding the support I need to continue my work has been difficult the past few years, so I have decided to try something new: writing a lot more fiction! I will need a little help to get this stage of my career rolling, however.

I’ve launched a Patreon Page to support a major drive to produce more short stories and novels in the coming months. If you can give me your support, I would sincerely appreciate it. I’ve tried to offer a few backer rewards that I thought people would enjoy, but the main reward will definitely be the new work I’ll be able to do with your help.

I’m hoping that all of the people who have been telling me for years that “We would love to see more of your fiction” were serious! I really would love to stretch myself and do something new.

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Two New Words Added to the English Language

I often make-up new words as I write, a habit which I share with many other mad people. English lends itself to the practice, which is one of the fun things about the language.

This week’s new words are:

Polyvangelism: The zeal with which people who have converted to polyamory attempt to convert others to the lifestyle, or defend the virtues of polyamory over those of monogamy. Like all evangelists, polyvangelists can become quite irritating and offensive to those who do not wish to achieve salvation via their chosen path to grace.

Y-Washing: The process by which a female-fronted concept-in-development for a work of art (novel, game, movie, comic) is converted to a male-fronted concept, replacing its female protagonist with a male protagonist. The decision to Y-Wash a project is usually made by high-ranking producers, editors, or executives who decide that no one will support a franchise if its protagonist is female.

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Give Us This Day…

…our daily otter.

 

This is totally me with a bowl of buttered popcorn.

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Or Maybe a Muppet Vampire…

The larva of a bluebottle fly pic.twitter.com/mvxLtgcNBh

Blue-Beetle-Larva

— Microscopic Images (@MicroPicz) August 13, 2014

 

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Steal the Fire

A few words here on the subject of Hero Worship, and the pain and disappointment that some of you will always feel, if a culture hero proves to have feet of clay…or be standing waist deep in manure.

Fair enough. I understand you’re in pain. I am sorry that Marion Zimmer Bradley has been indicted for child abuse. That Orson Scott Card is a virulent homophobe. That many great authors in my genre have charges of sexual harassment logged against them. That many of the great authors in ANY genre have histories of domestic violence, deviant sexual practices, criminal acts, even murder. And that this can be true of “Great” people in any field of human endeavor.

And I also understand why you don’t want to believe that your favorite pop star beat his wife or girlfriend. Or abused children. That your favorite athlete is a rapist, or a drunk driver. It hurts you, inside–and you want to show loyalty by refusing to believe it. The way you would with a person in your real personal life…someone you know well.

For the record, I do think love and loyalty are admirable qualities. I even think that stubborn refusal to abandon who/what you love in the face of opposition or detraction is not the worst quality a person can have. I admire that quality in you; I can be guilty of it myself. The closer I am to someone personally, the more I am likely to stand up for that person and try to see only the good in him/her, even if I know that he/she has faults. My inner child prefers to love all things in a simple, uncomplicated way.

I do not have the same relationship to art and other achievements that I admire, that I do with people whose kindness, courage, personal warmth and respect for others merit my real personal love and loyalty, however. I am very ambivalent nowadays about “Greatness”, for want of a better word, as a quality that earns deeper emotional engagement and personal loyalty.

The reason is simple: part of me has had to grow up, over the years. My innocence and the uncomplicated love and fierce loyalty that goes with it have been burned back to a stump, where Greatness is concerned. My engagement, my own fierce desire to be the best artist I can and to learn as much as I can from great art remains…but that deeper uncomplicated personal love is very much reserved for people I know on a personal level.

People are just people. Giving strangers the status of deities is not necessarily a kindness. Being told that they are Great, being worshipped and told they can do no wrong…is not necessarily a healthy thing for some people. It can bring out the worst in them, in truly sickening ways. (Women as well as men–Tiptree and MZB, ’nuff said.)

If I have been less than tactful at times, in defending the rights and dignity of “little nobodies” who are trampled by the Great, and in opposing the unrealistic idealization of the Great Ones among us…in denying hero worship to the great Artist, the great Author, the great Athlete, the great Comedian, the great Scientist…it is only because I have first-hand experience of how a person who has a self-perception of Greatness can ruthlessly abuse other human beings. My father was a great scientist; my grandfather was a great diplomat; I had at least one mentor years ago who was a truly great author.

Oy. No details. Just…oy.

For the sake of my own sanity, and to make the world a better place for “nobodies”, I choose not to worship people for the quality of their work anymore. I engage critically and sometimes cynically. And I am prepared to hear that exceptional people can have extraordinary flaws. I do not attempt to evade my perception of those flaws or shut down their critics or accusers in public.

Unconditional love is for children–specifically mine. No one else deserves that from me. Including my culture heroes. Including my mentors. Including great artists who have a great fire of talent and craft that lights the world.

I try to be Prometheus, not a priestess of Zeus. Steal the fire, warm the people. The gods are often douchebags.

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Throwback Thursday – 1993

Nathan-Card-Composite-sanitized

 

There’s been a round of cleaning recently at the Tribe House in Vancouver, and last night Mister Bear handed me a card that he had found, tucked in with the old paperwork and keepsakes.

It’s a Christmas card from 1993. It was still in the envelope–it had been sent to an old address in Seattle and forwarded to the new one. I must have received it right after New Year’s Day in 1994.

My friend Nathan was still living in Durango that year. The note he’s written on the interior says, “I’m still alive, this card is proof of that. I’m still writing and will send work as proof upon request. You should like my latest, ‘Love, Death and October Coffee’…”

There’s more, of course, but it’s personal stuff. A note from a friend who missed his old friends. He wished good things for me and my new family. He told me that my friendship had value–that’s a message I hadn’t received often and still don’t receive often, which is probably why I held onto his card for over 20 years, hidden away among the birthday greetings and the love letters and the hand-made Valentines from my daughters.

Historically speaking, Nathan Crowder wouldn’t stay much longer in Durango, Colorado after writing this card. He moved out West soon after. Nowadays he’s the one who lives in Seattle, but some things don’t change. We still haven’t met face-to-face in years–neither one of us ever seems to have the time and money for personal visits. And he remains to this day one of the most dedicated and passionate writers I know.

He’s published four (or is it five?) novels at this point, has four collections of his shorter work out, and he’s sold to a dozen interesting markets in the last six years.

I wish I had a copy of “Love, Death, and October Coffee” in my collection of Nathan memorabilia, but I don’t. Looking into my storage media, I find that the earliest work I have from him is dated 2005. They’re the early drafts of stories now published, “Fists of Felt”, “Kid Gloves” and “Memory in the Time of Bones”.

Time marches on. After almost twenty-one years I still have this card…and I still look forward daily to the status updates and blog posts and Twitter comments that give proof that Nathan is still alive.

I maintain a lively interest in love, death and all caffeinated beverages. Especially coffee.

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Throwback Thursday – 1982

Throw-back-Thursday-DAZZLERRemembered a happy moment of my childhood today, which is not that common. The year was 1982, and my mother and stepfather had taken me to Knoxville, Tennessee to see the World’s Fair.

While we were visiting family in the city, we did some shopping in the downtown core. My Aunt Barb was stuck watching me for some reason, and I (predictably) dragged her into a comic shop. I had just started buying some X-Men comics and a few later issues of Dazzler.

In the comic shop they had all the back issues of Dazzler, and I had probably five dollars to spend. I took all the issues of the comic that I had not read out of the long box in their bags and laid them out, trying to make a decision based on the covers and characters which precious few issues I’d be able to afford. I imagine every kid who loves comics has gone through similar rituals. There is always more to read than a kid can afford.

Anyway, God only knows how long Barb watched me doing this. I will never know what was going through her mind when she finally came up to me and looked at the pile of comics with the roller-skating laser-blasting Disco Barbie on the cover. But what she said was, “Do you want all of these?”

As a child, I was seldom asked what I wanted. I can imagine I must have hesitated, but I must also have nodded or said “yes”, because with a few brisk efficient movements Barb gathered up the whole pile, took them to the counter, paid for them, and gave them to me.

I still keep a few boxes of comics that I’ve saved over the years. Most of them were acquired after age 21, but the old run of Dazzler 1-28 is still in it, along with a few Spider Woman and Red Sonja comics I bought as a child. At age 12 I was looking for a female-bodied idol, someone I could aspire to be. But that day, Aunt Barb was my hero.

It remains to this day one of the most affecting memories of adult kindness I can recall.

 

 

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Ground Pounders is Out!

We’ve been tinkering with Ground Pounders a bit longer than we planned at the studio, but the day has finally come to push it from Early Access to Release.

I’m really pleased to have implemented the missions of the Sol Force campaign, which cover the early military career of one of my favorite characters from the SotSverse: Edward Alton McKenzie, a.k.a. “Mac”.

For those interested, Ground Pounders is an in-depth strategy war-game for mobile, PC, Mac and Linux platforms. Your support and feedback is always appreciated; there’s no game that we cannot make better when we hear from you.

Thanks for everything, folks. Go Ground Pounders Go!

GP_card_18

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