Crime and Lubrication

My laptop was stolen the week before Christmas.  I know!  Other things were taken as well but they got my freaking laptop!  And of course it contained all of my published and in-process manuscripts, notes, story outlines, character sheets, maps…  You name it, I probably had it.  What’s the risk of identity theft when compared to that?  Damn right.

Everything had been regularly backed-up on a flashdrive so nothing’s really gone, but still.  One flash drive.  One.  Without it the game would truly be over.  (Yes I have hard copies too but they’re paper.  Paper!)  So now I’m fretting about back-ups to the back-up.  Are three drives enough?  Nine?  Thirteen?  One stashed in the sock drawer, one in the kitchen with our secret herbs and spices.  Maybe a few tucked among the plastic sleeves of my Silver Age comics, or in one of those drug-mule cavity baggies if I can muster up the courage.  At least I’d always know where they are.  Maybe all that’s required for some peace of mind is a little squirt of lube.  I wonder if I should trim a bit first…        

Not So Private Parts

Still not digging the ultra-tight bicycle shorts people wear when they ride (and in Seattle everybody rides).  Cycling here is like swimming upstream into an endless torrent of camel toes and moose knuckles.

Acclimating to our new home has been much more productive on other fronts, genitalia notwithstanding.  “Time and Engines” was selected to appear in the anthology The Best of BCS Year 4, and I just received an invite to be a panelist on the writing track at next spring’s Norwescon.  Too soon to know in what capacity, though I’ve submitted a query to read “When Averly Fell From the Sky”.  It got a less than stellar review when it first came out, but I like it and it’s a good representation of where I am now.  You gotta stand by your babies.

The Road to Seattle

So this young couple wanted to buy our house in Foothill Ranch. More to the point: they were getting married in a few months, really liked our neighborhood, and did anybody want to sell? Now at this same time Kelly was looking into a variety of positions in Seattle, specifically at the University of Washington.

What happened next was a series of lightning-fast events that left us dizzy: Kelly got the job at UW (and loves it!); we sold the house and found a new one in Seattle just prior to Christmas; loaded up the cars and moved the thousand miles from Southern California through rain and icy fog (ugh). I found a job of my own over the river and through the woods; didn’t care for it and found another much more to my liking, not over the river but still plenty of woods–it is Seattle, after all. Unpacking, settling in (where do all these bloody books go!?!) with still enough time to squeeze in two conventions–Emerald City and Norwescon 2013. A breath or two to relax, and we finally feel like we belong.

So here we are in a three-story home built in 1948, just a mile from the university. The Cascades are on one side of us, the Olympics on the other, with Lake Washington and Puget Sound in between. It’s stopped raining for the moment (again, Seattle). The air smells of the forest and fireplaces, robins are on the lawn, and a creek is splashing a dozen yards from our back door. All because somebody wanted to buy our house. That ain’t a bad way to go.

Freelancers and Cunning Linguists

The second half of summer was very productive for myself and Beneath Ceaseless Skies.  “When Averly Fell From the Sky” appeared in BCS 103, in print and podcast. The podcast is awesome; narrated for us by a British writer, very earthy in tone and inflection, like Christian Bale’s real voice.  “To the Gods of Time and Engines, a Gift” was reprinted in the steampunk anthology Ceaseless Steam (available on Amazon Kindle, shameless plug).  Good stuff all around.  Ongoing thanks, Scott.

Our drama with Comic-Con came to a happy resolution.  Navigating the black market proved once again to be successful; we bought Kelly’s pass from a local San Diego girl who was not able to attend.  She was a sweetheart and I’m glad she made a profit from the deal.  So for the next five days Kelly posed as a young Asian woman on staff with Guardian Press.  The Asian part was tricky, but my naturally-blond wife pulled it off with confident aplomb.  And what does it say about Comic-Con when the only reliable way to get in is to do so under the radar?  I’ll leave that to minds much nerdier than mine to ponder.

So I meet a LARP developer representing an outfit up north; he’s looking to hire a freelance to help them create six unique languages for the characters and races in their new game.  The writer would fine tune what they’ve already done: vocabulary, accents, and phrasing; make it all sound exotic yet convincingly real.  Wow, says I.  Sign me up.  I’ve done this before and have a good ear for it.  They send me the file containing the core vocabulary for the six languages.  I eagerly open the file and find–gibberish.  Random sounds and strings of letters that bear no relationship to one another, nor is there any pattern that makes one language distinct from the others.  Wow, says I again.  It’s a mess.  It’s… hmm.  It’s a challenge, I’ll give them that.  Ultimately nothing came of it; I hyped the guy into a frenzy one too many times and he stopped returning my emails. That’s fine. It was fun while it lasted and gives me terrific fodder for panel discussions on “What Not to Do”.

Somewhere I’ve Never Travelled

So we’re heading up to Santa Barbara in a few weeks for the summer solstice, and I’m feeling reflective about the spring that’s coming to a close.

Beneath Ceaseless Skies has purchased “When Averly Fell From the Sky”, my third piece set within the Instrumentality.  They also acquired reprint and audio rights for “Time and Engines”.  I’ve been paid now three times for the same story, to which I certainly didn’t say no.  At my publisher’s suggestion I submitted “Time and Engines” to a steampunk anthology edited by Ann VanderMeer.  In the end I didn’t make the final cut, but I’m fine with that.  It’s a market I wouldn’t have considered otherwise, so all is well.  

Our plans to head up north for BayCon fell through at the last minute (boo!), but that’s been nicely counterbalanced by my acceptance to Comic-Con International as a pro writer (yea!), which is a huge deal for this skinny high school kid with the long hair and silly stories about spacemen and superheroes.

I’m left with very conflicted emotions about it, though.  With Comic-Con having become the monster it is now, and a registration system so convoluted that a quantum entanglement specialist couldn’t figure it out, I’ve been repeatedly unsuccessful in securing a ticket for my wife.  We’ve always gone together.  I can’t imagine attending without her; Kelly’s support was singularly responsible for getting me there as a writer in the first place.  Irony, thy name is bitch.  The black market is looking pretty good right about now.  Yes, there really is a black market for Comic-Con tickets.  Who’da thunk?  The geeks have inherited the earth.

Once More Unto the Breach

Welcome again to The Dark Apostle’s Tome, wherein speculative fiction writer Dean Wells will faithfully observe the time-honored literary tradition of referring to himself in the third person.  (But really, then, don’t we all?)  Here can be found a bibliography of Dean’s published work covering genres from science fiction and slipstream to horror-infused steampunk and fantasy; convention appearances; contact information; reviews; and the occasional bit of news for your enjoyment or noncommittal indifference.

Dean is a teacher and active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.