Writing, publishing, geekdom, and errata.

Programs for Writers At the Dayton Metro Library

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Get a Master Class In Characterization and Dialogue from Gary Braunbeck THIS WEEKEND at Context 27!

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I'm told that there are still seats for Gary Braunbeck's Characterization and Dialogue Workshop Sunday afternoon at 1pm at Context 27.

I have taken a similar course from Gary in the past, and easily count it among the most valuable couple of hours in my writing life.  Well worth it;  you can register for it at the door this weekend at Context!

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What was "that song" for you?

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You know, the song.  The one that formed or shaped (or transformed) your musical taste forever.

What song was it for you?

I know what mine was.  I had just come back from my friend Helen's house.  I'd been listening to punk, alternative, and a bit of industrial music at the time.  And I happened to turn on the television to MTV.

We hadn't had it long.  My parents weren't fond of it at all;  I think we only got it because it was part of a cable package.

And then the video for "One" (from ...And Justice For All) aired.

I'd had a similar experience the first time I heard "Mr. Roboto" as a young boy ... but this was different.   This was...more.

This was the song that shaped a lot of my musical taste for decades to come. This was the song I listened to at the Vietnam Memorial at the start of the first Gulf War. This is the video that defines what a music video could be for me.  This is the song that I could ace at Guitar Hero when I first picked up that fake plastic guitar. This is the song that still gets me to stop whatever I'm doing and play air guitar.

This song is blasting from my speakers as I write this.

No matter what genre, no matter what era - there is a song for you too.

What is it?

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I'm Supporting Banned Books Week at My Local Library... are you?

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I'm going to be in "jail" reading from one of the challenged books in the living display at the East Branch of the Dayton Metro Library.

If you're unfamiliar with Banned Books Week, it is:

...the national book community's annual celebration of the freedom to read. Hundreds of libraries and bookstores around the country draw attention to the problem of censorship by mounting displays of challenged books and hosting a variety of events. The 2014 celebration will be held September 21-27.
Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982 according to the American Library Association. There were 307 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2013, and many more go unreported.
The most challenged title of 2013?  The Captain Underpants Series.  No joke.

You can find out what events are going on in your area at the Banned Books Week website, or if you're in the Dayton area, you can stop by the read-out at the East Branch of the Dayton Metro Library [map] (I'll be there at 11am on Tuesday the 23rd.)

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Remember - ONLINE registration for Context 27 ends today!

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Context is a friendly convention focused on speculative fiction literature and related games, comics and films.  If you enjoy science fiction, fantasy, or horror, you'll find plenty to entertain you at this convention.

It's in Worthington - just on the edge of Columbus.  I've long described Context as being "the writing and literature convention you go to when you're ready to move to the next level," and we've worked hard to make the extensive programming and in-depth workshops with industry leaders a great value to readers and writers alike.

We've got all sorts of awesome guests:  Jonathan Maberry (author of Patient Zero, among MANY others), editor Betsy Mitchell, game-writing special guests Jennifer Brozek, Lucien Soulban, and Monica Valentinelli, and tons more.

If you miss the online registration deadline (TODAY), you can still register at the door for the convention and workshops - but it's more expensive, so REGISTER NOW!   Single-day registrations start as low as $15, so there's no reason to miss out on this opportunity.  REGISTER NOW!

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See me at Imaginarium in Louisville this weekend!

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I'll be at Imaginarium on Saturday and Sunday this coming weekend in Louisville.  It's the first year for this convention, and man, does it look to be an ambitious endeavor.   This is just my schedule:

Saturday 9:30 AM Social Media Overview
Saturday 1:00 PM Read the Instructions
Saturday 6:30 PM So You Wanna Be a Reviewer
Saturday 8:00 PM The Blog Tour
Sunday 1:00 PM Troll-Free Promotion
Sunday 2:00 PM Hashtags for People Who Don't Tweet
Sunday 4:00 PM Putting an End to Piracy

You can find out more about Imaginarium as well as seeing all they have to offer (film festival, workshops, lots of panels, and more) at

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How to Communicate Consent Sexily (thanks to Charlie Glickman)

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I was going to post my upcoming appearances (Imaginarium and Context come to mind) but instead, I want to draw your attention to another person's blog.

Issues of (sexual) consent - and lack thereof - have been a big issue lately for conventions.  And that's led to some great conversations - including the rise of the idea of enthusiastic consent.

But you still get folks who worry that waiting for a legalistic "yes" (or asking if you can kiss someone) will ... destroy society?  Make us all celibate?  I'm not sure.

Charlie Glickman did a wonderful thing - he asked his friends and followers on Facebook to offer suggestions of what nonverbal affirmative consent would look like.  Some highlights:

  • Looking me in the eye and giving me a hand signal that says ‘come towards me’
  • When I guide someones hands and place them on my body nodding yes.
  • Gripping, grabbing, pulling me closer, reaching for kisses, initiating position changes, following after a touch when it stops or moves, nuzzling, smooching whatever part is near enough, and playing with my hair are all signs of active, engaged enthusiasm for me.
This is great - and I really recommend you reading the article to get all of the suggestions and context around them - because consent is sexy

And guys, if you're looking for a way to be bold - and still get consent and respect your partner - Charlie's got an article (or two) about that as well.  Here's the tl;dr:
Step 1: Start off with an “if statement” such as:
  • If you’re available…
  • If you’re in the mood…
  • If you’re into it…
Step 2: Follow with a statement of your desire
  • I would like to go out to dinner with you.
  • I’d enjoy kissing you.
  • I’d love to spend the night with you.
Powerful, useful, sexy stuff, and highly recommended.

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Unexpected Baggage

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Sometimes as you're going through life, no matter how well you prepare, you have an unexpected reaction to an event.

It's really easy to accept that in other people.  It's hard as hell to accept that for yourself.  While you'll eventually be able to figure out what you're going to do, getting to that point means that you first have to be able to accept your own reaction... which can be hard.

Really hard.

I just wanted to take this space to help the people who have helped me with that, and apologize to those I've inconvenienced or hurt when I reacted in ways I didn't expect.

And now something nice:  a picture of my girlfriend and I just before the Black Keys concert. 

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A Quick Reminder About My "Artistic License" Policy (Or: I'm Not Talking About You)

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As I already had two e-mails overnight from different friends of mine with kids from yesterday's post about Savage U I thought this would make a good time to remind people about the "Artistic License" page that covers all posts I make.

It's a strange thing in my life:  Topics seem to come in waves.  Divorce, publishing, teenagers, jealousy, job issues, whatever... I keep finding myself talking about the same topics to several people.

None of whom know each other.

Person A has a problem with their job.  Person B - in a different industry and city! - has a similar issue.  And so on.

So if you think I'm talking about you... you're probably wrong.  That and I routinely change personal details unless I ask the person in question.

So I have an artistic license policy, and have for the last four years.

It's on the bar at the top;  the text of it follows.

Privacy is important to me. Not just my own privacy, but the privacy of others. As a result, some of the details and anecdotes in this blog are, at best, "creative non-fiction".

  • I will frequently write about things that I've talked about in real life here on the blog. Some of those things may have been sparked by a conversation I had with other people, or an action someone else took.
  • I frequently take artistic license when talking about real life, usually to make an example more clear.
  • I frequently obfuscate real-life details, even if I report an event completely accurately.
  • Many - but not all - of my posts are written well in advance of when they appear on the blog.
  • I often try to relate or generalize my experiences from one area of my life to another one.  This happens enough that it's actually part of my bio on my website. 
  • I never violate privacy laws or ethical guidelines around privacy. If it appears that I am, it is a fictionalized account.
  • If I'm reacting to a blog post, tweet, public seminar - anything that's a broadcast medium - I will usually cite the person I'm talking about if I can and if it's relevant.
  • If it was prompted by a non-broadcast or limited broadcast medium - a private conversation, e-mail, anything on Facebook, forum post behind a password - then I will usually obfuscate the individual(s) in question.
  • If I didn't explicitly "out" you as the person I was talking to, there's one of four reasons (the last two are the most common, by far):
    1. I didn't want to for my own reasons.
    2. I didn't ask you about it beforehand.
    3. I wasn't talking about you
    4. I wasn't just talking about you.
  • If you choose to "out" yourself, please remember #3 above and realize how you might look silly.
  • If you think I'm talking about you and I misunderstood your point, please remember #3 above and ask me. For example, I could say "a female writer I know who I spoke to about eBooks" and easily refer to fifty people or more.

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If You Have A Teenager, I Think You Should Watch This Show With Them. Now.

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A friend of mine recently learned that his teenaged son had become sexually active.

The first thing I said:  "Thank goodness your son felt comfortable enough to tell you."

The second thing?  "You should probably watch Savage U with your kid."

And if you're a parent with teenage kids, you probably should too.

I mentioned the Savage Love podcast a month or three ago in my list of podcasts to listen to thusly:

Savage Lovecast:  Dan Savage gives great relationship advice.  Seriously.  There are so many jacked-up things that we've got embedded in our psyche about relationships, and Dan cuts through almost all of them.  Give the micro version a try for a few weeks (with ads) and I'll bet you'll want to subscribe to the Magnum version like I do.
The thing is, Savage Love is... well, pretty aggressively 18+.  Unless you're comfortable talking about sex, it'd be uncomfortable listening with your kids.  (I highly recommend you listening, though.)

Savage U, however, is perfect for watching with your teenage kids.

The premise is pretty simple (here lifted from Wikipedia's entry):
The series follows Dan Savage and Lauren Hutchinson as they travel to different colleges across the United States. In each episode, there is an open Q&A session where Savage and Hutchinson discuss anonymous questions submitted by the audience. Within the episodes, Savage has a one-on-one session with various students who have issues that encase deeper relationship problems.

It's a frank discussion... but filtered for an MTV audience.  Dan is a funny, caring, and sensitive guy who gives great advice.  There's a wide range of people and problems represented on the show.

And here's the absolutely best part:

You get to talk about people other than your kid or you.

Savage U explicitly makes it about other people... so you can talk about people on television rather than talking about each other.  That takes the embarrasment factor down roughly a billionfold.  Your kids will be able to ask the questions they want to without having to pretend that it's "for a friend", or worrying that you think they're revealing something about themselves.  And it lets you, as a parent, talk honestly and openly without prying too much into their sex lives.

I cannot recommend this enough

You can get the episodes on Amazon streaming or on MTV's website.

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Helping Others To Help Yourself

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As some of you know, I've had some difficulties in my life.

In particular, the ones I've brought on myself.

I've learned from them - especially thanks to my (oh so patient) girlfriend's advice.

I've talked about those mistakes, and what I've learned from them.  Like my Lessons From the Far Side of a Divorce posts (part one, part two), or talking about how we rate pain, the three things that have made (or broken) my relationships, and how we frequently use "think" and "feel" in really unhealthy ways.  Not just online, either.  I sometimes talk to friends about their issues, with an aim of trying to help.

There's been a surprising side effect.

As I've explained how I've handled situations - both well and poorly - and what I'm doing now, I'm forced to work through my own thoughts, my own assumptions

and it helps me as well.

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