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How to Celebrate the Quittening

In 2.5 weeks, I will be leaving full-time employment with the State of Michigan, where I’ve worked for almost 15 years. I’m brainstorming how best to celebrate this transition to More Writing and Less Commuting. Here are the ideas I’ve come up with so far…

  • Writing-related tattoo! (Probably something with Snoopy at his typewriter.)
  • Stormtrooper armor. Or maybe Boba Fett. (Very pricy, and since I’m losing my regular paycheck, this one’s unlikely.)
  • Custom lightsaber.
  • Dye the beard a random and interesting color. Or colors.
  • Fancy new high-quality zoom lens for the camera.

It goes without saying that sleeping 72 hours straight will be a vital part of the celebration.

What do you think? Any other suggestions?

10 Hugo Predictions

Hugo voting closed a week or so back, and in another two weeks, the winners will be announced at Sasquan. After said announcements, social media will explode with commentary, congratulations, criticism, and chest-thumping. I figured I’d get my post-Hugo blogging done before the Hugos are actually announced, and thus beat the crowd. (Feel free to check back later and see how close I was with my predictions, or mock me for being completely off-base.)

Hugo Award Logo1. Congrats to David Gerrold and Tananarive Due for a wonderful job hosting the Hugo award ceremony!

Some of the puppies were complaining that the hosts would use their platform to take shots at the Sad and Rabid Puppies and their works. I’m glad (and utterly unsurprised) to see those fears were nothing but paranoia, and perhaps wishful thinking on the part of those trying a little too hard to portray themselves as victims. Gerrold and Due both care a great deal about the Hugos, the genre, and the community, and that showed. Thank you both for your professionalism on stage after a very challenging lead-up.

2. At least three puppy nominees won Hugo awards.

Congratulations to the winners, including those who were on the puppy slates. While most of the puppy nominees failed to take home a rocket, I imagine there will be at least three. I’m predicting one will go to my own editor, Sheila Gilbert, who’s made the ballot on her own in previous years, and is (in my biased opinion) utterly deserving of the award. I’m not as sure who the second will be, but I’m guessing Kary English in the short story category. One of the movies on the puppy ballots will also win. Finally, I think there’s a good shot of either Resnick or Brozek taking home a short-form editor Hugo.

3. At least one category went to No Award.

No Award didn’t sweep the ballot like some people hoped/feared. It did take the Novella category, though. I think it will probably take Best Related Work as well.

4. A number of puppies came in below No Award in the voting.

Once the Hugo Awards have been announced, the next step is to pore over the voting numbers. Vox Day and John C. Wright had the most dramatic losses, but they weren’t alone in scoring behind No Award. Michael Williamson’s related work also took a drubbing from No Award. (On a related note, I believe John C. Wright is now the first person ever to be nominated for six Hugo awards, as well as the first person to lose or be disqualified in all six.)

Some people will point to this as evidence that Hugo voters don’t like slate-voting, and/or proof of the low quality of much of the puppy-nommed work. Others will point to it as proof that the SJW cabal still runs the Hugos, and worked to keep the Wrong People out.

5. The non-puppy nominees did quite well.

Congrats in particular to Cixin Liu and Ken Liu in the Best Novel category for The Three-Body Problem, which narrowly beat out Ancillary Sword and The Goblin Emperor.

6. Various puppies immediately ran to the internet to declare victory.

This was an easy prediction, since a number of folks have been declaring victory for weeks or months now. Because losing the Hugos proves their point that the game is rigged against them! Winning the Hugos proves their point that people really want to read their kind of stories. No Award is what they wanted all along, because it’s actually about destroying the Hugo awards.

In addition to these old and surprisingly mobile goal posts, there will also be crowing about who was kept off the final ballot by the puppy slates, because it’s actually about rocket-blocking those evil SJWs.

7. Wesley Chu took home the Campbell Award.

It’s not technically a Hugo award, but it’s presented at the ceremony, and I think Wes is going to be rocking that tiara.

8. The Puppies will return for at least one more year, but they won’t have the same impact.

Given the amount of attention it brought him, I have little doubt that Theodore Beale will launch Rabid Puppies 2016 and try to repeat this year’s performance. The Sad Puppies have chosen their spokesperson for 2016 as well, but after the backlash they received this year, I expect the sad side to start to quietly move on. So we’ll have at least another year of puppy slates, and they’ll probably get some nominees on the ballot again, but it won’t be a repeat of 2015.

9. Someone will try to run a counterslate in 2016. It will fail.

Slates and counterslates are, in my opinion, a really bad idea. That won’t stop someone, somewhere from trying to run an anti-puppy slate. But it will be condemned pretty broadly, and won’t get any real traction.

10. Fandom and the Hugos survived.

This year did not break the Hugos. It did not destroy fandom or the genre. It did expose a lot of anger and emotion, and led to tens of thousands of hours of lost productivity for people trying to read every last update and/or respond to every comment. Because no matter what “side” you’re on, at least we can all agree that 20th Century Fox really needs to stop trying to make Fantastic Four movies.

Bonus Prediction: If I’m right about some or most of these, some dumbass will point to it as proof I’m part of the SJW cabal rigging the results ahead of time.

Going Full Time: The Finances

In another 3.5 weeks, I’ll no longer have a full-time day job. It’s taken a long time to reach this point, and one of the biggest concerns I had was financial. I’m giving up a stable, good-paying job with a regular paycheck. While the writing has paid pretty well for the past few years, the income is neither stable nor regular. One month might see a five-figure royalties check, while the income for the next few months is down in the three-digit range. And there’s no guarantee my books will continue to sell.

So I wanted to make sure we were in good enough financial shape for me to make this leap. Here are the things my wife and I were looking at, starting with the REALLY BIG EXCITING NEWS:

  1. Reducing Debt – So I paid off the mortgage yesterday… Walked into the credit union and did a wire transfer, which is one of the adultiest things I’ve done all month. With that transfer, we are officially debt-free. My wife’s student loans are paid off. Both vehicles are paid off. We don’t carry month-to-month debt on the credit cards.

    This is HUGE. We’ve spent years working toward this point. Eliminating the monthly mortgage balances out a good chunk of the lost income from my day job. Not to mention we’ll no longer be accumulating interest that has to be paid off.

    A little while back when I was explaining what a mortgage was to my son, I told him we’d paid off a lot of the house, so we owned most of it, but we didn’t own his room yet. So the bank could still come and take his room away. (He’s ten, and I’m one of those dads.) I’m so thrilled that last night I got to come home and tell him we own his room.

    Korra - Finally

  2. Building a Cushion – Someone once said if you were going to quit the day job and write, it was a good idea to have at least six months’ income saved up. I’m not quite at that point, but I’ve managed to build up a decent cushion, so when my car dies or the water heater goes up like a rocket or the puppy eats the refrigerator, it won’t immediately screw up our lives.
  3. Cutting Back on Spending – I’ll be taking over a lot of the grocery shopping, and I’m going to be trying to trim our household spending wherever I can. I might turn into one of those Extreme Couponers holding up the line while I sort through my double-coupon deals, until impatient shoppers finally bludgeon me to death with their zucchini. I’m also thinking more about what conventions I can afford to go to, and doing what I can to split hotel and transportation costs and such.
  4. My Wife Has a Stable, Full-Time Job – This was another huge prerequisite. The primary thing we needed was health insurance and other benefits. Everyone in the family has some sort of chronic health issue, and without insurance, we’d be bankrupt before I could pitch the next book. The ACA opened up some options, but her employer-provided insurance is a much better option. This also means we still have some stable, reliable income for when I’m waiting for Hollywood to write me a million-dollar check for  LIBRIOMANCER VS. GOBLIN PRINCESSES: THE MOVIE.
  5. Checking the Budget vs. the Writing Income – Finally, I’ve been looking at our month-to-month budget to get an idea how much we spend each month, and making sure my wife’s job plus my average writing income for the past few years would cover what we need.

My hope is that once I’m writing more, the writing income will increase as well. Sounds logical, right? Well, that shows what you know. PUBLISHING CARES NOTHING FOR YOUR PUNY “LOGIC!” What this means is I’ll need to keep an eye on things and see how it goes over the next year or two. I’m thinking specifically about things like being able to put more money aside for college for the kids, as well as retirement funds for me and Amy.

I may look into other freelance work to help supplement the fiction. I’ll also be able to expand the range of what I’m writing. Who knows … maybe when I finally write Jig the Goblin in 50 SHADES OF BLUE, that will be the big money-maker that puts both kids through college.

There’s a lot to think about, and a fair amount of anxiety. There’s also a lot of excitement, not to mention the celebration of the mortgage-slaying. Huge thanks to my agent, my publisher, and all of my readers for helping me reach a position where this was a realistic financial option for me and my family.

Klud Broke the Muppets!!!

Yesterday morning, Klud the Goblin sent out a newsletter to talk about Fable: Blood of Heroes being out. Here’s the first part of that newsletter:

Klud: You said I’d only have to send these things out once every three months. It’s only been two months since the last newsletter. Go away and let me sleep.

Jim: I said about every three months, and I have a new book out today.

Klud: Not my problem, human.

Jim: Oh, I know all about your problem.

Klud: What are you talking about?

Jim: I heard you on the phone the other day.

Klud: I’ll do the stupid newsletter.

Jim: Did you ever get through to someone at ABC Studios? Did they tell you where to send your gifts? I don’t know much about goblin courting rituals, but—

Klud: I’m typing now!

Jim: You know she’s in a committed relationship with Kermit, right?

Klud: I’m trying to write a newsletter. Shut up and go away!!!

#

I didn’t think much of it at the time. And then, later that afternoon, Kermit the Frog posted this:

After careful thought, thoughtful consideration and considerable squabbling, Miss Piggy made the difficult decision to terminate our romantic relationship. We will continue to work together on television (“The Muppets”/Tuesdays 8pm this fall on ABC) and in all media now known or hereafter devised, in perpetuity, throughout the universe. However, our personal lives are now distinct and separate, and we will be seeing other people, pigs, frogs, et al. This is our only comment on this private matter. Thank you for your understanding.

#

I don’t know when or how he did it, but the truth is clear: Klud broke up Kermit and Piggy!

I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I had no idea he was so serious, or so skilled in the ways of goblin-pig romance. I apologize to Kermit, to fans of “Pigmit,” and to everyone else Klud hurt in his pursuit of muppet love.

Ugh … there’ll be no living with him after this.

Happy Fable Day!

Back in the first part of 2013, my agent got in touch with me to ask if I’d be interested in writing a tie-in novel for the new Fable: Legends video game.

Fable: Blood of HeroesToday, more than two years later, Fable: Blood of Heroes officially hits bookshelves across the country. The book is humorous fantasy, most similar in tone to my goblin books, and tells an original story about the Heroes of the game joining forces against a nasty threat with bad teeth.

Q&A:

“Can I read and understand the book if I’ve never played the Fable games?”

Yes. Yes you can. I wanted to make the story accessible to everyone. There are a few inside references for long-term Fable fans, but they shouldn’t detract from the experience or bump you out of the story if you’re not familiar with the world.

“When will the Fable: Legends game come out?”

Later this year. Check the Fable: Legends website for updates, or to sign up for the beta.

“What was it like working with Lionhead?”

Different. Fun. Ultimately, very rewarding.

Purchase Links:

Amazon appears to have marked the trade paperback down to $7.65 today.

Excerpt:

Other Release-Day Links:

More to come!

Final Note:

Thank you to Lionhead, Del Rey, and my agent for helping to make this happen. Thanks also to all the readers and Fable fans who’ve expressed their excitement and enthusiasm about the story. I hope it makes you smile, laugh, cheer, and look at chickens in a whole new way.

As always, release week is one of the most important times in a young book’s life. If you felt like mentioning the book online or posting a review, the redcaps would be forever grateful. (Though, considering what redcap gratitude probably looks like, that may not have been the best way for me to encourage word-of-mouth…)

Book Week Events!

Fable: Blood of HeroesFable: Blood of Heroes [Amazon | B&N | Indiebound] comes out tomorrow, which means I’ll be spending much of this week doing the new book dance. Here’s where you’ll be able to find me both in the real world and online:

I’ve got two guest blog posts going up at other folks’ sites. I’ll link to those as soon as they go live. I’ll also be sending out a newsletter tomorrow, and one subscriber (drawn at random) will receive a free autographed copy of the book.

Happy Book Week, everybody!

Hugo Voting Closes Tomorrow

Voting for the Hugo Awards closes tomorrow, July 31, at 11:59 p.m. PDT.

I’d hoped to post additional reviews on the different categories, but I seem to have done the time warp again, and suddenly it’s the end of July. D’oh!

So instead, have a scattering of related thoughts and links.

My overall impression? The Hugos have not been destroyed. There are some cranky people who want to piss all over things, but what else is new? Despite the shenanigans I think there are some very strong works on the ballot this year. Far fewer than usual, but enough that I remain excited to find out who takes home some rocket trophies. I also expect No Award to make a strong showing this year.

I encourage folks to vote, and to nominate next year, and beyond that, we’ll see what happens.

One Week Until Blood of Heroes

Fable: Blood of HeroesFable: Blood of Heroes [Amazon | B&N | Indiebound] comes out in exactly one week.

Making life more interesting, Revisionary is due to my editor on Saturday, August 1. It’s going to be a hectic week or two in the Hines house.

Anyway, since it seemed to go over well last time, I figured I’d give away another book. Next week, I’ll be sending out another author newsletter about the book, and when I do, I’ll pick one subscriber at random to receive an autographed copy of Blood of Heroes.

If you’re interested, you can sign up here.

And on that note, I gotta get back to revising Revisionary… Have a lovely night, all!