This feels awesome. I'm going to throw some grains of salt on the following comment by saying I always feel like this, but... pretty sure this is the best novel I've ever written. It's also my first YA book, first first-person story, and first all-female point of view. A lot of firsts.
And it's awesome. At least, it felt awesome. And early readers who've gone through the first few chapters say it's awesome. So I here, humbly, say this book could be awesome.
Sadly, it still has a way to go before you can find it in your local bookstore. As in many rounds of revision, discussion, and then some time in submission to find an agent and editor.
But all of these will only make it more awesome. In the meantime, I am looking for a few first-readers, especially if you can relate to queer or gender-fluid characters. Hit me up!
Otherwise, sit back and wait impatiently. Aletheia is coming.
1. And she may or may not, based on how the last scene turned out, be called Aletheia of the Iron Staff.
2. And if you want a taste earlier than that, peep this early sketch I posted.
If you've seen the trailers to LIFE, it looks pretty awesome: a near-future spacelab thing where they reanimate a cell from Mars--and it turns around and bites them.
From there, the movie could have gone into an exploration of how to communicate with the alien, or how to defeat it, or a meditation about the inherent violence of life... instead, it (spoilers, but not recommending you hold your breath for this one anyway) devolved into an Alien remake, except this time the people trapped on the ship with the murderous alien don't have any good ways to fight it. From promising beginnings, LIFE basically becomes a horror-thriller about people trapped in a house with a killer loose, and doesn't end up stimulating much gray matter other than lizard brain fight-or-flight .
On a scale of one to awesome, this is an okay: nice production value, truly scary at moments, but ultimately no well-developed characters or surprising storylines. Even their final solution to the monster sort of comes from thin air--and don't get me started on the ending. It's not quite alien-bursting-from-dead-character's-stomach, but it's almost as bad.
Watch at your own risk. It has some cheap thrills, but I'm thinking your life-hours might be too precious to spend on LIFE.
That's right. Like, all of them.
Someone said all you have to do to write well is read often. I'd amend that by saying read widely, and read quality. So when the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America releases its top picks for the year, it's sort of like being handed a curated reading list. If, y'know, you think you have time to read five novels, five novellas, five novelettes, and a handful of short stories. I figured, I don't have much going on this month (just getting married and buying a house), I can read those.
So here we go. Anybody want to join in? I need a better reading partner than Reddit.
PS Yes, I know James SA Corey isn't on the Nebulas this year. But the first three books in their series have been so good, I couldn't help ordering the fourth as a palate cleanser. And, they deal tangentially with real nebulas, so.
Sometimes even if you don't drink and it's the middle of the day you need to have a damn toast. Now is one of those times: after revising the first book of The Resonant Saga three times in the last two years, I again this fall decided it wasn't where I wanted to be. So I jumped in again, and this time ripped out and totally rewrote 40% of it, about 60,000 words over the course of four months. Which you have to understand, if those words were some of your darlings and highly polished and mostly good, is a painful process.
But, I look at it like getting a tooth pulled: painful, but it needed to happen. And i think I've magically slipped a new tooth in will fit even better, in addition to being sharp as knives. So it's time for a toast, if nothing else then to dull the pain ;)
And after that, the much-dreaded querying process to see if someone wants to buy this from me! In the meantime, if you're curious, check out the deleted scenes I have posted here--plenty more where they come from--and tell me what you think!
Just updated the progress bar on The Resonant Saga to nearly done--and that means it's time to think of next projects! One of these is The Cursed, a new adult novel I'm working on involving sense-based magic and a contest to become the world-ending Darkbringer--read more here!
And if it sounds interesting, send me an email! I have a few slots left for pre-readers--meaning you get to read the first draft of the story, tell me what you like and what could be better, and in this case help brainstorm an ending! Pre-readers also get a promo copy of the book once it's out, and a mention in the acknowledgements--so hit me up if this sounds like something you want to do!
...when books come in the mail . This week's box I'm especially excited about--let's discuss them in order of appearance:
The Neil Gaiman plus (the) Terry Pratchett, Good Omens. Can you imagine a more power-packed story-telling duo than this? No, you cannot. Nor can I--and yet, I've yet to read it. Goodbye, this week's non-writing hours.
Anthony Ryan, Blood Song. Recently discovered this UK author and fell in love with his latest work, The Waking Fire. I might still have to write a blog about it, it's so good, but think B. Sanderson magic and plotting with witty British dialogue. A must-read--and this, his first novel, gets even better reviews online, so. All the excites .
Terry Pratchett, The Color Of Magic. I didn't tell the whole truth up above--it isn't even that I haven't ever read Good Omens. It's that I've never read Terry Pratchett. And basically every still-sentient SF lover I've mentioned this to informs me I'm a sinner and damned until I've read at least a few of the Discworld novels. At which point I will still be a sinner and damned, but have a sense of humor about it (can you tell I'm already on the last section of the book?)
N.K. Jemisin, The Obelisk Gate, because damn, the first book in this series rocked my socks off. Let's just make a short list: successfully told in second person; seismic magic; further narrative trickery; stellar worldbuilding; loveable unique characters; plot twists and magic oppression and love outside social boundaries. Awesome. And, I'm told, she pulls it off again and to even greater degree in The Obelisk Gate . Can't wait to read it.
If these books are anywhere near as awesome as I'm hoping, you'll probably hear about them more. Or find their stellar influences in my own writing, starting with the Aletheia project I'll be writing next month! Also, if you haven't heard and are curious, I'm looking for pre-readers for the current draft of The Cursed!
And may you have a bookfully good day too.
 It's a good day when they come from the bookstore too--but i intentionally forget what books i've ordered online, and often send them slow shipping because i still have a pile of other books to read (creating a sort of deadline), so when i open that box it's a total surprise. Like getting a box of gifts from a friend who knows exactly what you've been wanting to read.
 Plus, I'm like a hormone-drowned high schooler when it comes to new authors. I get crushes. I get addicted. If i like them at all i suddenly need to read everything they ever wrote, including blogs, interviews, podcasts, and bad never-published novels i find through extensive internet creeping. The list of these authors to date: Alastair Reynolds, Ken Liu, Brandon Sanderson, Daniel Abraham, and now likely Anthony Ryan. And the great thing is, you don't ever have to get rejected by them outside the west entrance of the gym and spend months moping in hormone-laden depression. You just wait for their next thing to come out and in the meanwhile, you know, maybe date some other writers.
 She's also in grave danger of becoming the next author crush. And her blog served as the inspiration for this one, dear fellow reader, so if you've got a hankering for some well-written blogs swing on by.
When it comes to movies, I'm like a small animal. If it's bright and shiny and even potentially interesting, I'm sticking my hand down the traphole to grab it. My particular brand of bright and shiny (no surprise here) is science fiction and fantasy. So really any SF/F movie that comes out, no matter how terrible it is likely to be, yeah, I'm going to stick my hand down the hole.
Thus my recent viewing of Assassin's Creed.
It was, as expected, a somewhat painful hybrid of references gamers would get and tried and true Hollywood formulas that didn't really add up to a great movie. But that's the fun part about bad movies--you get to make up how they would have been better.
In this case, a couple things were wrong. First, the main character is secretly brought back from a death sentence to have his genetic memories mined in a shadowy organization's search for clues about the local of a mythical artifact. This is an awesome idea. The main character's motivation for helping them, however, was less than awesome: he just kinda wanted to escape the shadowy organization's headquarters, but since they had him trapped, he had to do what they wanted. About fifteen minutes later he's lived through some genetic memories of being a very adept assassin and escape artist, and proven he can still use those skills in the real world. But--doesn't try to escape. And continues not really trying to escape as he levels up and they abuse him. So, motivation sucked on that one.
What would have made it cool? If they'd tied the eventual why-did-my-dad-kill-my-mom plotline in sooner, and held that out as a carrot for him to discover via genetic memory, maybe with him sneaking in after hours to use the giant video game machine where he relives these memories. Or if there was a plausible love (instead of just sex) interest. Or a deeper secret his genetic ancestor was trying to pass him. Eventually, he gets on board with the organization's stated (but not true) goals for personal reasons--but there's a hot minute there where he's just kind of doing what the plot needs him to.
The ending was not great either. You could see it coming a mile off, which is okay in action movies sometimes--it's more about how badassedly-awesome they make that predictable ending than the fact that the hero wins. Assassin's Creed, however, didn't really try for awesomeness at all: hero just kinda walks in and takes what he wants, then leaves. This after the best parts of the movie have undeniably been the fast-paced action scenes set in his genetic past. The end was the time when we were supposed to see him use all his genetically-learned assassin skills in the present day. Instead, he does a couple things to a person that might indicate a sequel--but without making us love this one enough, the sequel promise kinda falls flat.
To be fair, the movie was bright and shiny: the afore-mentioned genetic-flashback action scenes were both beautiful and exciting, and taken together made a cool novella-length story set in 16th century Spain. If that had been the whole movie, I would have been pretty happy.
It wasn't, but it still wasn't a waste of my 11.99$, because like a badger that stuck its hand down a hole to get something shiny and ended up stuck a little bit, I think I learned something.
And, I got to look at a shiny SF thing, which is its own reward.
 Like, I am told, the constant climbing of handy structures, the long shots of birds flying over cities, and the Christopher Columbus cameo.
 This is also actor Michael Fassbender, who plays Magento in the X-Men movies, and I know it's irrational, but I kept being like Just Magneto them, dummy.
Here's the part where I blab about my new website and awkwardly welcome you into my previously-quite-private writerly life, and maybe say some things about some things I think I'm going to say on this blog once i get past this initial, extra-awkward saying about saying.
Or, I could cut to the chase: I'm a writer. But I got this way by being a reader--which I'm guessing you are too, if you're reading this . And much as I love books, I mean reader in the big sense: Readers of life. Not just books, movies, and TV commercials, but the stories in friend's and family's and distant-acquaintance's real lives, and the big historical we're-all-involved (presidential election) kind of stories. And the ones we make up about the people we see on the street, or the ones we meet in our head. I try to be a Reader of these stories, and if you Read such things too, perhaps these posts will interest you.
Someone once said we are each the hero of our own story. Someone else (Joseph Campbell) said there's really only one story to be told--so as we're heroing through our own lives, it probably makes sense to read how other people have done it, both real and real-ly imagined. I think those stories help us revise the ones we're living, in either plotting a better next chapter, understanding deeper what's going on in this one, or offering a little perspective on what the hell just happened. Those are the kinds of stories I want to write, anyway.
So I thought, Fellow Reader, instead of burdening you with details of my burgeoning authorial career, I might share with you here my Reads on stories that have impacted me. Maybe not all deep, inspirational, or classy (see upcoming post about the Assassin's Creed spinoff movie), but they don't have be great to mean something. We just have to be awake enough to Read them that way.
And every now and then, maybe I'll talk about my stories too.
 And yes i am going to footnote things, because much as i love the linear way sentences force me to finish a thought, sometimes the thought splits or branches, and i want to take you down both limbs. This time i'm going out on a limb (puns might happen too) to note how redundant that statement was: how could you be reading this if you weren't a reader?
 A secret love--i dont watch TV, but sometimes search YouTube specifically for funniest commercials. They're like 30-second blasts of highly-polished, focus-group-reviewed mega-money-funded fiction. For the purposes of selling us something, yes, but still super fun.
You've reached the electronic home of SF author Levi Jacobs. Cleverly hidden in this site are stories I've written, news about things I've published, excerpts from my novels, and dark secrets about my other life as an itinerant fruit salesman. Enjoy!