Confluence 2014 Schedule

Confluence in Pittsburgh was one of the first cons I went to when I came back to publishing after a ten year break. I had a lot of fun, but in following years something always got in the way, either family vacations or San Diego Comic Con or visits from relatives. I’m so happy to finally get back there this year. And I’ll get to be on a panel with friend, neighbor, writer, and scientist Sarah Goslee!

Fri 7:30 PM Reading. I’ll be reading from “We Are All Completely Fine.”

Fri 9:00 PM A Pack of Apocalypse – How realistic are end-of-Civilization Scenarios?  Ken Chiacchia (M), Alan Katerinsky, Daryl Gregory, Sarah Goslee

Fri 10:00 PM Pine Looking for Something New in SF – the literature of the future D Harlan Wilson Daryl Gregory, Tim Liebe, Herb Kauderer (M)

Sat 10:00 am Kaffee Klatsch

Sat 11:00 am Pine What Makes you Think That? Perception vs Reality D Harlan Wilson, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Daryl Gregory (M), Brea Ludwigson

Sat 7:00 PM Franklin Beyond the Experimental Set SF/F/H going into unexplored Territory D Harlan Wilson (M)Daryl Gregory Tim Liebe Eric Leif Davin

Sun 11:00 am Autographing

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Readercon 2014 Schedule

I really should do a better job keeping up with this blog — and also telling people where I’m going to be. In an effort to be a better person, here’s my schedule for Readercon, one of my favorite conventions, starting in just a few days. Next up, my schedule for Confluence and Worldcon!

Friday, July 11 2:00 PM When the Magic Returns. John Chu, Max Gladstone, Daryl Gregory, Lev Grossman, Victoria Janssen (leader). The “return” of magic into a mundane world is one of very few ways in which we see fantasy set in the future. Why is this? What makes fantasy and futurity so incompatible? Why is the return of magic so often associated with apocalypse, while its banishment is usually the consequence of scientific or industrial progress? From Aarne-Thompson tale types like Richard Corbet’s “The Fairies’ Farewell” to Kim Harrison’s Hollows series, panelists will talk about the ways in which magic-as- technology can be explored.

Saturday, July 12 1:00 PM Integrating Exposition. Jeanne Cavelos, Glenn Grant, Daryl Gregory, Mary Rickert, Sarah Smith (leader), Melanie Tem. In a 2013 interview with Paul Holdengräber at the NYPL, William Gibson noted that the description of cyberspace in Neuromancer came not from a character’s dialogue or a block of narrative text, but from a television show for children that Case and Molly encountered while channel-surfing. Gibson described this device as a way of both sneaking exposition into the text and selling it to the reader. As the announcer extols the wonders of cyberspace to the show’s viewers, the reader is encouraged to buy in just as those viewers would, with the credulity of a child. It also helps to set the scene; Gibson said he hears it in the tone of post-WWII PSAs about the wonders of atomic everything, a retrofuturistic touch that contrasts cleverly with Neuromancer’s gritty atmosphere. What are other ways of making exposition work for the narrative rather than interrupting it?

Saturday, July 12 2:30 PM Reading. Daryl Gregory reads an excerpt from a novella coming out from Tachyon in August, “We Are All Completely Fine.”

Afterparty Launch Day

An espresson and water, like any civilized person would have.

An espresson and water, like any civilized person would have.

Greetings from the road. I’m sitting in a Peet’s Coffee in Portland, on the second leg of the Afterparty Tour. Tonight I read and sign at Powell’s in Cedar Hills Crossing at 7pm.

This is my third coffee today — the first was espresso at Spella Cafe (left). Then I walked around downtown, had (at Scott Edelman’s suggestion) a Portland Creme donut at Voodoo Donut, had more coffee, then met up for lunch with pals and fellow writers Chris Roberson and Paul Tobin.  Life is good in Portland, my friends.

Signing at the B&N. Photo courtesy of Monique Nethercott.

Signing at the B&N. Photo courtesy of Monique Nethercott.

Two days ago in Oak Brook I signed and read for the hometown crowd, and it was a blast–especially the part where friends from high school and college came out of the woodwork. The day before that was an SF panel at C2E2 with Gary K. Wolfe, John Scalzi, and Misty (M.D.) Waters, and a fabulous dinner with Tor folk at the City Winery, where Mary Robinette Kowal’s husband is the winemaker.

But I wanted to take a second to talk about the Afterparty Launch Day on April 22, and the many bloggers, reviewers, and friends who put out the word about the book. There were so many interviews, guest blog posts, and reviews that I didn’t have time to even tweet them all. A full list would take a couple pages of scrolling, so let me mention the highlights.

The reviews were quite nice. Karen Burnham over at SF Signal is one of my favorite reviewers–and not just for my books. She has some very thoughtful things to say about Afterparty, and I’m very pleased that she “devoured” the book. Jason Sheehan at NPR also gave the book a “juicy” review; you’ll have to read it to see what I mean.

On the interview front, Amazon Books Blog ran a fun Q&A. I had an extended conversation with Andrew Liptak at SF Signal. And I had great interviews with Sarah at Bookworm Blues with Kristin at My Bookish Ways. There were quite a few more Q&As across the internet–which are all on twitter right now, but I’ll post them here.

Many bloggers opened up their sites to let me write a column. I’d especially like to thank these folks:

Sarah Chorn, who also runs Bookworm Blues, has a series on SF Signal called Special Needs in Strange Worlds. where she allowed me to write about “Minds, Bodies, and the Three D’s.”  John Scalzi gave me space to write about the Big Idea in Afterparty to talk how the brain is lying to us all the time. And Lawrence Schoen gave me a spot at the table in his Eating Authors series to talk about the best meal I ever had, which happened to be in Toronto, where Afterparty is set.

Thanks, everyone. You’re awesome.

Afterparty is NOT a hoax

…or IS IT?

Let’s say ALIEN INTELLIGENCES want to screw with you, Philip K Dick style. You’re at home, receiving most of your information about the outside world through a screen. You have been told by the screen that your novel will be published next week. This book is all about how you can’t trust anything your brain tells you. It has a character who is PARANOID because she can see PATTERNS in the NOISE. You are almost certain you wrote this book.

The screen brings you EMAIL from REAL PEOPLE who claim to have read the advanced copies of the book. REVIEWS appear on the screen, and you dutifully send links to these pages to other REAL PEOPLE who appear on a screen labeled TWITTER. But what proof do you really have? What if the ALIEN INTELLIGENCES want you to remain CALM and WAIT?

Then, a box arrives in the mail. It is not a metaphorical container, like DropBox. It is REAL.

The BOX contains this:

BoxOfAfterparty

There are many copies of the book you thought you wrote. You are happy, and relieved. The book is REAL!

And then you think, wait a minute. What if this is the ONLY BOX? That’s just the kind of thing that ALIEN INTELLIGENCES would do.

You have a week to wait before it is scheduled to appear in any other bookstore. You can do nothing but wait. Nothing but type this into the screen and click PUBLISH. Because that is something a REAL PERSON would do.

You know only one thing for sure: This will be a LONG WEEK.

Cosmic Book News On Afterparty

A lot of news rolling in today. Like this review that just came in from Byron Brewer at Cosmic Book News. It’s pretty much what every writer hopes for. Also, Byron and I will also be doing an interview later.

Here’s a snippet from the review:

“It has been a long time since I have read a book of such wide scope, one that defies genre type such as Afterparty. Has writer Daryl Gregory (BOOM! Studios’ Planet of the Apes comic book series) given us another zombie romp, a superhero novella or a supernatural thriller for the ages?

“Yes, yes and yes.”

See what I mean? Now read the full review. 

Afterparty First Reviews

Greetings from the Rainforest Writers Village, in drizzly, misty, Quinault, Washington. It’s day one of this five-day retreat, in which I am supposed to sit in a cabin and write things. And oh, I’ve got a lot of things to work on — a comic script, a copy edit of the new novella that will come out this summer (more on that later), a few PR activities for the launch of Afterparty —  but mostly I’m here to start the new novel. I’ve just started stirring the primordial soup on the thing, which means that I will spend much of the next five days staring at the water and thinking about naps.

But, just before I was smuggled into the rainforest in the trunk of Jack Skillingstead and Nancy Kress’s car, I received word of the two first reviews of Afterparty. Here they are:

Publishers Weekly: “Gregory (Unpossible and Other Stories) dashes off his near-future story like a ‘chemjet’ printing out sheets of smart drugs…The tragi-comical satire dispenses with sermons and easy morals, preferring to be entertaining and thought-provoking instead.” Full Review.

RT Book Reviews: “Gregory’s world-building is top-notch… Afterparty is a story with hefty implications but Gregory wisely keeps the focus tightly on Lyda and her friends and ex-friends, giving the story as much emotional as conceptual impact.” (I’ll post a link when the April issue goes online.)

The Afterparty Tour

It’s on, people! When Afterparty launches on April 22, 2014, I’ll be making several appearances at cons and bookstores. Here’s the ones I can confirm, and there will be more coming.

Updated 3/17/14.  Portland and Seattle changed! (We found out that SFWA was doing its reading series on those dates, and I didn’t want to split the public with my fellow SFWAns, so a little joining forces [Seattle] and a little shuffling of dates [Portland]).

C2E2. Chicago, Friday, April 25; 1:30-2:30 PM, South Building, McCormick Place. A discussion panel on SF with signing to follow. C2E2 is a Chicago comic and pop culture expo. The panel is described thusly:
“From the far flung reaches of the Milky Way the mind-bending possibilities of time travel, let authors John Scalzi (The Human Division), Daryl Gregory (Afterparty), M.D. Waters (Prototype), and Mark Frost (the Paladin Prophesy series) tell you what they see when they venture to other dimensions.”

Barnes & Noble Oakbrook Center, Oakbrook, IL, Saturday, April 26, 2pm. My hometown bookstore! Or at least as close as we could get.

Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills CrossingBeaverton, OR, Monday April 28, 7pm. My first visit to Portland. Can’t wait.

SFWA reading seriesKirkland, WA, Tuesday April 29, 7pm. Seattle, my OTHER home town. I seriously want to move here. I’ll be reading with Nancy Kress, Jack Skillingstead, and Leah Cutter.

Copperfield’s in Petaluma, Petaluma, CA, Friday May 2, 7pm.  Just north of the San Francisco bay, this huge bookstore puts an emphasis on introducing authors to readers.

Borderlands Books, San Francisco, Saturday, May 3, 3pm. I love these people.

Mysterious Galaxy Books, San Diego, Sunday May 4, 2pm. And these people! Seriously, Borderlands and Mysterious Galaxy are two bedrock bookstores for the field. For writers like me, indie booksellers who know SF and fantasy are the difference between (career) life and death.

SF in SF Reading Series. San Jose, Thursday, May 15, 7pm. Free to Nebula Award Weekend attendees, $10 for others. All proceeds benefit the SFWA Emergency Medical Fund. I’ll be opening for Samuel R. Delany, new SFWA Grandmaster, and my teacher at Clarion back in ’88. Chip Delany was the teacher who had the most effect on my sentences, and is largely responsible for my first sale. Love this man.

I’ll also be attending these cons in 2014, and perhaps doing some reading and paneling:

I’ll have more news later, including details on a book launch party in State College, PA.

Party in the UK and Japan

Some good news: Afterparty will be translated into English. As in English English, which may include changing all my mid-word Z’s to S’s, as their organisations are wont to do. They also say wont a lot. The book will be published in the UK by Titan Books on August 18, 2014, which coincides with Loncon 3, the World Science Fiction Convention. We’ll be doing some kind of launch activity there. Many thanks to John Berlyne at Zeno Agency, who brokered the deal. He’s an absurdly tall man, but he uses his powers for good.

Soon after learning about the Titan Books deal, I learned that Afterparty would also be translated into Japanese. The books’ been picked up by Tokyo Shogensa, via Misa Morikawa at Tuttle Mori Agency. This is the first time I’ve had a book published in either country. So that’s cool.

The Spreadsheet of Shame

I used to have this idea that real writers could point to a deadline in the distance like Babe Ruth aiming his bat at the center field bleachers, and then, through the powers of professionalism, just start writing and hit that thing.

Turns, out, I’m no Babe Ruth. I can’t write a novel in one mighty swing. And there’s no urgency to a deadline twelve months away, or even six. I’ve found that the only way I can hit my deadlines (and I’ve hit every major one I’ve committed to, thank you braggy much) is to leverage daily amounts of shame. Or at least the risk of shame.

The best way to do this is to announce your goals — a daily word count, for example — to your loved ones and trusted colleagues, and have them ask you how it’s going on a regular basis. Say, every day at the dinner table. This is effective because we’re basically chimps, social animals evolved to respond to public opprobrium and approbation. (Cats don’t feel shame, which is why no one ever wants them on project teams.) 

But this daily confession can be wearing on your loved ones, and worse on your colleagues, because you keep calling during dinner. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was some device to make you feel that glow of approval, or that heat of disgrace? 

Which brings us to the Spreadsheet of Shame.

For every big writing project in the past five years, I’ve used an Excel sheet to track word counts. It’s gotten more elaborate with each project — because when you’re starting something new, one of the best ways to procrastinate is to work on something you tell people will make you more productive. This latest version has pretty graphs to show me when I’m falling behind, and cells that turn red when I’m under my goal.

For example, here’s what it looked like at the beginning of the writing of my YA novel:

SpreadsheetOfShame Harrison Data

See all those red cells? I had a tough time getting started. That’s per usual. Also, notice that the goal in the first few weeks (that D column) was a lousy 500 words per day,  a rate that somebody like Tim Pratt would scoff at, and I still couldn’t match. Then I started catching up, and I ramped up my goals to 1,000 words a day, then 1,500.

There are a couple graphs I use to show my word counts each day, and how I’m stacking up cumulatively.

SpreadsheetOfShame Harrison Daily

SpreadsheetOfShame Harrison Cum

When things are going well — meaning, when that blue line is over the red one — I gaze upon these graphs in loving admiration. What a fine person I am! When that red line is above the blue one — and sometimes it’s way above — I beweep my outcast state.

Over the years I’ve shared the S.O.S. with a few writer friends, and now I’m sharing with you. If it helps you, fantastic. If it doesn’t, then use a more public form of shaming.

First, download it

At the start of your project, do this:

SpreadsheetOfShame Setup

  1. Save the file with a new name.
  2. In the Data tab, pick a start date. In A3, enter the next Sunday when you’re going to start tracking. It needs to be a Sunday.
  3. In B2, enter the number of words you’ve written before you started tracking. This can be zero.
  4. In F1, enter the number of words you want to write per day. (This is only the default amount — you can change individual days.)
  5. In J1, enter what you think might be the ending word count. This is only used to calculate the percentage complete in column I. It doesn’t affect the graphs.
  6. If you know you’re not going to write on some day — say, Arbor Day, because who works on Arbor Day? —  go ahead and put a zero into the cells for that day in column D.

Then every day, do this:

  1. In column B, enter the total word count in the doc. (All the other columns will update to show how many words you wrote that day, and what your % complete is.)
  2. In column G, you can leave notes about what you worked on that day. Or (and this is more common, in my experience) to explain why you didn’t reach your goal that day.

And that’s it. The other tabs are graphs to show your daily output, in, well, graphical terms. That’s why they call them graphs. They’re graphic.

Oh, yeah. When you start to fall behind,  column F starts turning red. That would be the shame aspect of the document. But really, it’s the graphs that make me realize when I’m slipping.

And hey, it’s only an excel doc, so you get to do anything with it you want.

First Responders: Afterparty is out!

Oh my, it’s leaking into the world. Afterparty, my next novel, won’t be published until April 22, but the ARC (Advanced Reader Copy, for you civilians) has been sent out. This is always a weird time for a writer. You’ve sent your darling off to kindergarten, and you hope the other kids aren’t making fun of her for those weird clothes you made her put on. (“But honey, all the genre kids LOVE neuroscience!”)

The first person to post is Rose Fox, editor at Publishers Weekly. This is Rose’s personal blog, and it’s not an official review, but it’s reassuring to hear the first reports. Rose read it in a day!