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Good News and Random Observations

The reviews are coming in, and I’m feeling great about them. In addition to the promised review from Midwest Book Review (you have to scroll about a third of the way down the page to read it) and some good reviews on NetGalley, I have a fairly positive review from Kirkus. When you’re an indie writer on a low budget, a Kirkus review is the sort of thing you dream envious dreams of. I’ve also mailed a physical ARC to the UK.

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I had a long conversation with a friend the other day. (Note: introverts don’t find all human interaction to be draining. We need to interact with others, but we need it the way a camel needs water or a whale needs air—less often but in larger helpings. What’s really draining is small talk.)

My friend, who’s a graphic designer, pointed out that the cover of Locksmith’s Closet (which I mostly designed) looks more like horror than YA/middle-grade science fiction. Hard to argue with that.

We got onto the topic of a short play I once wrote, “Breakfast Special,” about a weird little restaurant where “choice of meat” means literally any kind of meat. My friend suggested that at the end, it should turn out that everything the customers order is actually chicken.

I should have thought of that myself.

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Over the past year or so, I’ve managed to increase my Twitter following by a factor of ten. I’ve done this using hashtag games—daily games where writers include a snippet of their own writing in response to a prompt.

One that I’ve rarely been able to take part in is #TrickyTues, which is mostly about using big words like “mendacious,” “aggregate,” and “stoic.” This has made me realize how well I’ve learned the lesson that language is for communicating with and cured myself of the childhood habit of using the biggest, fanciest word I know, unless that also happens to be the best possible word for the job. Which it sometimes is. (I’ve actually used the word “aggregate” in Altered Seasons: Monsoonrise. It happened to be the word that the character would say at the time.)

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Speaking of Twitter, I think every author today has a certain fear of the Twitter mob. Watching an angry Twitter mob in action is like watching the hunting and feeding habits of the African wild dog. A pack of them will chase a zebra or antelope across the savanna at a steady and relentless pace, possibly attacking the sinews of the hind legs if the opportunity is there, but mostly just following. What adds an element of surreal horror is that the dogs’ faces are fixed in an expression that looks, to human eyes, like a goofy grin, as if they’re starring in a pet food commercial. If you’re old enough, you can practically hear them saying “Kibbles ’n’ Bits! Kibbles ’n’ Bits! We’re gonna rip out your Kibbles ’n’ Bits!” And when the prey collapses from exhaustion, the dogs don’t go for its throat or snap its neck like some predators would. They just dive in and eat it alive, starting with the rectum and working their way inward. Not a pretty sight.

That’s what Twitter in its wrath reminds me of, and I’ve seen it break the hearts of better people than me. But every once in a while, if you’re very lucky, you get to see it turn against somebody who really, really has it coming.

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Continuing to speak of Twitter for some reason, you’ve probably noticed conversation on Twitter and Facebook about “male authors” who describe their female characters like they’re typing with one hand. You may be wondering if these people are referring to any particular author or authors.

They might be talking about this guy.

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