Where did it go, folks? And how did we not notice it passing beyond the veil? I’m writing, of course, of the year 2016. It feels like we’re still hip-deep in the muck of it, yet it’s all in the books and 2017 is here, insistent and fully formed. I just can’t believe 2016 is over already.
We must’ve made the mistake of blinking. That’s it.
In any case, one of the genre author’s yearly benchmarks has once again arrived. It’s awards season. I know because I just now received an email about Hugo nominations opening to registered voters. It feels like just yesterday I was typing at you about how funny books don’t win awards so don’t bother reading this eligibility post in 2016.
Well. That post still wholeheartedly applies because no funny books, including mine, won any major awards last year. I’d take a minute to go back and read it, if you’re so inclined, as it applies to THIS year even more than last year.
That’s right. I’m back, and so are my funny fantasy books. The novella series I began in 2015 with Envy of Angels only grew stronger throughout 2016, and I’ve got even more great stuff coming this year. I also did some other stuff of which I’m pretty damn proud, and a lot of it is eligible for awards.
Let’s talk about the big stuff.
SIN DU JOUR & RENCOR
I have three–count ’em, three–awards-eligible novellas this year!
Lustlocked (Jan. 26th, Tor.com Publishing) — This is the second book in my Sin du Jour series, and it was the first to receive a starred review from Publishers Weekly. Featuring my most heartfelt tribute to none other than David Bowie as the eternal Goblin King, Lustlocked is the series at its most manic, wild, and over-the-top, from entertainment industry satire to demonic cartoon security guards to rabid sex lizards in the New York Public Library.
Pride’s Spell (June 21st, Tor.com Publishing) — Lustlocked was followed by Pride’s Spell, which made it onto several “Best of 2016” lists, including Nerds of a Feather and SF Bluestocking. This novella is, to date, my definitive satire of Hollywood, Los Angeles, and the film industry in general, and I love it for that among many other reasons.
Rencor: Life in Grudge City (July 15th, From Parts Unknown) — Indie publisher FPU released my first major piece of fiction about pro-wrestling this year (a job I did for close to a decade in my youth). It’s a very personal story that’s also a helluva lot of fun, about two rival enmascarados (masked Mexican wrestlers) forced to come out of retirement and work together to stop a new old evil that’s threatening their equally beloved city. Rencor was the talk of the Latin Comix Expo this year, and has garnered attention from literary corners and pro-wrestling corners alike. I recently talked to Slam, Canada’s #1 wrestling website, about the book. There is literally nothing else like it out there right now, and I’m intensely proud of it.
The writing-as-a-job podcast I began with co-host and Campbell Award-winning author Mur Lafferty in 2015 only got better throughout 2016. I’ve been involved in podcasting for over a decade, and I have never been prouder of a show. Among a glut of podcasts speaking endlessly to the craft and angst of writing, we strive with Ditch Diggers to educate, inform, and provoke aspiring and working freelance writers about the business of writing, bringing our combined thirty-some years of experience to the subject. We also go out and get the best and most qualified guest co-hosts we can find to open up the topics we cover even more.
While we tend to focus heavily on genre fiction, Mur and I try to cover the broadest spectrum possible of freelancing. We’ve talked TV writing with Margaret Dunlap. We’ve talked comics and the comic book industry with Kelly Sue DeConnick, Mikki Kendall, and Shawn Pryor. We’ve talked corporate futurism with Madeline Ashby. If you can make money writing it, we want to help you make more.
I take immense pride in Ditch Diggers because I truly believe this type of content is needed. Virtually no one takes the time to consistently educate and inform writers about the business side of what we do, and that is agonizingly reflected in the economic realities of freelance writing life.
This is our second year of awards eligibility. We ended up 11th in the Best Fancast category of the Hugo Awards last year. Now, that category was also 100% overrun by Rabid Puppy (a.k.a. “sieg heil!”) slate candidates. If that slate didn’t exist, and it shouldn’t, we would’ve been one single spot away from making the ballot. It was a bad beat that left a bitter taste in our mouths, and both Mur and I would love to see it corrected this year by just making it onto the ballot. It’d be a big win for our little podcast, and I sincerely believe it’s worthy.
“Small Wars” (Jan. 19th, Tor.com) — I actually managed an awards-eligible shorter story in 2016 (it’s been pointed out to me that its length qualifies it for Best Novelette, not short story)! “Small Wars” is a modern fantasy romp about obsolescence and the toils of the big and the small (partially inspired by this essay of mine). Publishers Weekly called it “shockingly poignant” and I think that’s a fairly good summary and argument for the piece.
“Beyond Words Lies the Language of Storytelling” (Nov. 30th, Tor.com) — Probably my favorite non-fiction piece I wrote this year, in which I reach far back in memory to talk about the first intense experience I had with storytelling and how it informed my later work and career as a writer. The source of that experience might just surprise you. Or maybe not.
“The Pelecanos Proposition and What It Means to SFF Writers” (Jan. 29th, SF Signal) — I wrote this lengthy treatise based on a subject we’re always talking about on Ditch Diggers–diversifying your revenue streams as a freelance writer. In this essay I talk about transitioning from fiction to screenwriting and the film/TV industry, the benefits, the pitfalls, and the prevailing wisdoms for and against.
Love and cheap hook-ups are in the air, folks! Sunday is Valentine’s Day, and I have a new book out I feel is particularly appropriate, or particularly inappropriate but in a good way, to the occasion. It’s called Lustlocked, and it’s the follow-up to Envy of Angels, the debut book in my Sin du Jour series of supernatural comedy urban fantasy-type stories.
You have a lot of options for entertainment this weekend, including some pretty sick V-Day counter-programming from flicks like Deadpool, the marketing for which trumps any paltry bullshit I will offer herein. You also have your Sparksian rom-non-coms and whatnot. There’s a lot out there, to be sure, and for every taste.
I am, however, going for the Valentine’s Day marketing hat trick. I am attempting to simultaneously program, counter-program, and counter-counter-program at the same time. I am taking on all comers in my quest to squeeze holiday-centric money out of you.
I believe, if nothing else, I deserve some credit and pity buys for the Herculean attempt.
With that in mind, here are my top ten reasons why you should make Lustlocked your Valentine’s Day read this year and gift it to that someone special in your life.
1) It’s about a wedding! It’s about two people from different worlds who truly love each other getting married. And hey, that’s what St. Valentine did! He married folks in love in secret who weren’t allowed to be married by the state. Obviously none of us read history ever, but surely you saw the How I Met Your Mother episode about it. I’ve got a book about a wedding out on Valentine’s Day! The marketing writes itself! And yet here I am anyway. Writing the marketing. Because I have to be. Because I really need to sell some more of these things. So get with the program, will you?
2) If you’re not into weddings and love, it’s also about lust! We’ve got Manhattanites turning into craven lust monsters rampaging and humping their way through the city. We’ve got reptilian orgies that would make Hunter S. Thompson stoned out of his mind blush. We’ve got sexy people hooking up under intense circumstances and gettin’ it on proper. We’ve got multi-orientational flirtations, tensions, and unrequited passion. THIS BOOK IS PRACTICALLY INJECTED WITH RAW PANTHER HORMONES AND SHOULD COME WITH A UNIVERSALLY ADAPTABLE SEX TOY. I TRIED BUT MARKETING SHOT DOWN THE IDEA I CAN’T HELP BEING A VISIONARY AHEAD OF HIS TIME.
3) Equal opportunity nudity! Unlike every HBO series, I believe in a two-to-one hanging brain to female breasts ratio. I guarantee you twice as many naked hot dudes as naked hot women in the same installment. DONG WILL NOT BE UNDEREXPLOITED IN MY FICTION. I’VE CAMPAIGNED ON THIS ISSUE AND I DELIVER.
4) It’s cheaper than going to see Deadpool, lasts longer, and features just as much swearing, violence, and self-aware sarcasm. I promise. Buy two copies and read it with your significant other! You’re still coming out ahead in the dollars! Even with reading snacks!
5) Really though, you should probably also go see Deadpool. It looks pretty freakin’ sweet. But if your entertainment budget has to choose between the two, obviously, reading is fundamental and Marvel has enough fucking money. I HAVE NONE. HELP ME. HELP ME PLEASE.
6) The book’s cover kind of looks like a funny Valentine. I think. And let’s be honest, this is a greeting card holiday. We’ve been conned by Hallmark for like, a century. We’re marks. Stop buying into the scam already. Give your significant other a book instead of a fucking cheesy overpriced uninspired greeting card that doesn’t even have a developed narrative THAT’S JUST A PICTURE OF A BABY OR A PUPPY OR SOME SHIT WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN YOU DON’T KNOW MY RELATIONSHIP, HALLMARK.
7) More than our own love lives, what we really dig is the love lives of celebrities. In fact, we just love celebrities. They’re America’s royalty. They’re America’s pantheon of gods and goddesses. They’re better than us and we know it. They’re everything. And I lampoon the shit out of many of your favorites in this book. You need that. You need to have the spell broken, because seriously, it’s pathetic. KANYE WEST TWEETS ABOUT HIS FUCKING BREAKFAST AND IT GETS RETWEETED FORTY THOUSAND TIMES WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?
8) Gourmet food and shiny diamonds! That’s what Lustlocked is all about, and that’s what Valentine’s Day is all about. You take your significant other out for a fancy, expensive dinner somewhere you probably wouldn’t eat if not for this fake-ass holiday, and you give them a rock some corporation convinced your historically gullible species was worth something when it is literally worth nothing and that they probably chopped off some brown person you don’t care about’s head very far away to attain and sell you at an absolutely ludicrous, arbitrary, made-up price! And who can afford all that shit nowadays? Really? We’re genitals-deep in generational debt and always will be, we stopped asking questions about salaries staying concurrent with inflation decades ago, the housing market resembles the polar ice caps in Kevin Costner’s Waterworld, and the Fed (probably) killed the last president who asked if it was a smart thing for America’s money to be privately controlled. You simply can’t afford luxury items at the level we’ve collectively given up, so don’t try. Buy a book and read about all the finer things instead! It has Goblins who literally eat cake sprinkled with diamonds. How much baller can I make it for you?
9) Ditto travel! You’re not taking a trip for Valentine’s Day. Airlines realized you’re basically a hostage no one cares about. It’s over. Have you seen the prices for airfare and/or experienced airline service lately? It’s a fucking nightmare of greed and cruelty. Not to mention the TSA agent with their hand on your junk while they literally stare at porn they just shot of you. And fuck Louis CK and his bit about the “miracle of flight.” They took bigger seats out and put smaller seats in to bilk your no-choice-having ass. You’re allowed to be mad about that. But mad won’t give you wings. So, stay grounded and escape into a book instead! I promise to take you on a journey so vivid you’ll forget it is now cost-prohibitive to ever leave your house which you also absolutely cannot afford either and will probably die before you own. But hey, books!
10) I love my fiancée very much, and your money will go toward the wedding we are being mercilessly up-charged for by an industry that preys on the emotionally vulnerable. I’M LITERALLY USING THE MONEY YOU SPEND ON MY BOOK ON VALENTINE’S DAY TO GET MARRIED. WHAT’S MORE VALENTINE’S DAY THAN THAT?
There you have it, folks. My top ten reasons to make Lustlocked your Valentine’s Day purchase…
You’re right, it did go a little off the rails there a few times. And got kind of weird. I apologize. But I feel like I made some good points.
Anyway. Lustlocked is available for Kindle as well as Nook. You can grab an audio copy from Audible and put it in your ears. Or you can do me and yourself the great service of going old school and ordering a gorgeous, sexy, romantic paperback edition of the book.
Happy Valentine’s Day!