Archive for April, 2017

My Country, North Carolina

All right, I’d like to take five to address the fact that North Carolina is considering another bill to limit the rights of our LGBT citizens to marry and stand up and be counted equals in the light of the sun. Obviously, I think this is monstrous. It’s ideologically motivated, and I don’t like ideologies. It’s cruel, and I don’t like cruelty. But that’s not brave of me to say, and it’s not revolutionary. It may be revolutionary for me to say as someone on the political right, but I don’t think of it as a thing requiring great courage or even an opinion of particular novelty. It’s the right course of action. So that is not why I am writing this. Rather, I am writing this because I have seen several people–both here and on Twitter–expressing their embarrassment and shame to be accounted citizens of this state which I love most of all those in our Union, and most of all the countries of Earth.

North Carolina is my home, and has been my entire life. I expect that it will always be my home, and expect that it will one day keep my bones, as it keeps the bones of my grandfather. Because of this, I feel a tremendous weight of fondness for this place, and for Raleigh most of all: City of Oaks and tangled highways.

Not too long ago, I was in New York City, explaining to my new and cosmopolitan friends there just what sort of place it was I come from. I felt for a moment that defensiveness, that sense of careful shame and safeguarding directed at protecting the creeks and suburban enclaves of my home. I felt a need to explain that we weren’t up to our eyeballs in Confederate battle flags and obsessed with bathroom regulations. Heavens, I account myself a conservative and you could not find two shoes less likely to fit my feet. It occurred to me then, as it occurs to me now, that I was then in the city that thought “stop and frisk” was an acceptable policy.

My point is this: no place is wholly good or evil, just as no person is wholly good or evil. Rather, each place is BOTH good AND evil. Every culture oppresses and constrains. That’s what a culture is for. It tells you how you have to live because you have to learn to live with one another, and we can’t share a roof or a city if we’re all so radically different we can’t communicate. That’s Babel. That’s what the patriarchy everyone harps on about IS: it’s culture’s tendency to shape the behavior of the people in it, whether they will or no. (We can talk another time about why culture is typed masculine in rhetorical and dramatic structures). But cultures also protect and define. Like our actual fathers, they give us structure, they teach us who we are, how to be, how to stand up as finished people and speak the truth. Sometimes they go too far. They make mistakes. They hurt. But we can change that.

This bill does not speak to the North Carolina I believe can be. It does not speak to the North Carolina I believe should be. Must be. But I will not be ashamed of my state because of it. The soil is innocent of the law, as are most of the people living under that law. We can be the change we want in the world, but we cannot do so from a place of shame, of disgust, of contempt. We cannot improve the world if we hate all that it is. If we are embarrassed by it. The lawmakers downtown are making a mistake. They are making a mistake from an ideological place, and I say again: I do not like ideologues. Left or right. They’re pathological and are acting from precisely the same place of shame as those of you who turn your eyes down and whisper “Yeah, I’m from North Carolina.” As if it were the outer vestibule of hell or some failed state half a world away, war torn and backwards.

You cannot believe that and embetter the world. You do nothing but drag your own pathologies into the light. You make the world meaner. If you fight for truth, for love, for justice–whatever you call it–you cannot do so meanly. Weakly. With shame. Be proud of the place you’re in, be proud of where you come from: not despite its flaws, not because it’s perfect (it’s not), but because you are here. And you can it better.

But you have to sort yourself out first.


New York, New York

A week ago, I was packing for my first business trip–itself a strange experience, and another of those sure signs that I had left my childhood behind (another being how my birthday on Wednesday being a thing entirely devoid of pomp, circumstance, and cake). The experience was perhaps made a little stranger by the fact that I had compounded my work trip with another work trip, because such is my life.

I’d been flown up for a publishing sales conference–a surprisingly brief affair–in which we made the Simon & Schuster sales force aware of the titles coming out in our Fall season (between September and December), they made some suggestions about branding and marketing for said books, and I kept my mouth shut. I’ll be putting together a video for my notoriously spotty YouTube channel on the trip soon, but that piece will be a deal more meditative than informative, I think, and so I thought I’d enumerate the hard facts here for those curious about such things.

1. I do not have a release date for Empire of Silence just yet, but I can tell you that the earliest it can be out now is June 2018. DAW has its Spring schedule filled out already, and due to delays beyond all controlling, I did not make the cut. My suspicion is that the release will actually be closer to the start of Fall 2018, perhaps in September, but that’s just a gut feeling. That may actually be ideal, as I will certainly be at Dragon Con both this year and next, and launching AT Dragon Con would be positively righteous.

2. I will know more about the release schedule for certain come the end of June. My new editor, Katie, said she has another book to finish editing first and then it’s my turn! That does mean I have a little time to wait, and April always was the cruellest month, but that’s all right. Waiting will give me more time to finish playing Breath of the Wild, and honestly the fact that I haven’t finished it already is a badge of shame weighing heavily on my soul.

3. That being said, Katie and I spent about 7 hours on Sunday talking though the series as a whole and getting a plan sort of worked out, and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve every confidence that we’re on the right track now to deliver the very best version of the story, and if that takes a little more time to prepare, then it takes a little time to prepare. I’ve been waiting for this since I was 8-years-old. I can wait a little longer. Still, having one’s first book come out when one is 25 is slightly less awesome than 22, but I WAS 22 when I sold it. #NeverForget.

4. I also have permission to start working a bit on book 2, and my aspiration is to have book 2 finished and delivered to my publisher well in advance of the release of book 1. I don’t want to get stuck in a rut and leave everyone hanging. Besides, I’m happiest being productive, and the 10000 words I’ve already written in the sequel are all pretty glorious so far. I think it’s off to a really great start.

5. On a tangential note, I can 100% confirm that the short story anthology I’m editing with Tony Daniel, Star Destroyers, will be out in March of 2018, on the 6th to be precise. It’s shaping up to be quite a fun little collection, with stories from David Drake, Michael Z. Williamson, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, Jody Lynn Nye, and myself–along with several other Baen mainstays. My short story in there, “Not Made for Us,” will give us a ground-level view of the Empire’s war with the Cielcin, as a Legionnaire is thrown into battle with those monstrous xenobites without any warning at all. So 03/06/2018, Star Destroyers, mark your calendar.

6. I haven’t started sending out that other short story I mentioned–the one with the Catholic priest and the android. I’m waiting to get some fresh eyes on it first, because I don’t want to bungle it. I’d love to actually sell something to one of the magazines.

7. It may well be that I’ll be editing at least 2 more anthologies with Baen Books in the coming year/year and a half. More on that as it develops.

As a final note, I’m absolutely thrilled to have met everyone: Betsy, Katie, and my agent, Shawna. The whole thing feels more real now than it did before. I’m really going to be an author. It wasn’t all some sort of dream I was having. I have to wait a little longer than I’d thought, sure, but that’s a small price to pay for ensuring the book’s release is as well-planned and felicitous as possible.

That’s all I know, friends! The YouTube video won’t be out today–it usually IS the first–but it will be along this week.

Stay human!