Virtual Vacation: Ewok City

David Keener, from Ewok City

Right, so here’s another virtual vacation since I don’t have the latitude to go on a real one. This time, I’m reporting in from Ewok City. And, hey, I’ve got a vacation beard, too. Can’t get much more realistic than that.

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Virtual Vacation: International Space Station

Virtual Vacation: David Keener and the ISS

So, there’s this lockdown thing going on, as if that was news to anyone, and it looks like every single vacation plan I had for this year is gone. And probably next year’s vacations, too.

Now, I could complain about stuff like this, but, really, it is what it is. I’m reminded of people, like my grandfather, who survived harder times than these. He lived through the Spanish Flu of 1918, the Depression, and then served aboard destroyers guarding Atlantic convoys from U-boats in WWII.

But unlike in my grandfather’s time, we have high-tech options…for entertainment and for exercising our imaginations. So, if I can’t go on a real vacation, I’ll go on some virtual vacations.

All right, so here’s my first virtual vacation. Thanks to the magical “Virtual Background” feature of Zoom, the group communications application, here’s a picture of me aboard the International Space Station.

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Inspiration: Star Trek Night Hawks

Star Trek Night Hawks

Another version of Edward Hopper’s famous Night Hawks painting, but this time with a Star Trek slant. It seems like the least I could do after the last one, which was the Coronavirus version of Hopper’s famous painting. For some reason, I really like this one.

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The Future of Writing Groups

Hourlings Writing Group, On Zoom

The Hourlings writing group meets every Sunday without fail, and no pandemic is going to stop our meeting. Of course, certain realities obviously have to be taken into account…like the safety of our members. The last three meetings, including today’s meeting, shown above, have been conducted using the professional version of Zoom.

In this meeting, we had fourteen attendees for roughly three hours. Yes, I know it says 15, but Marty’s on twice, by phone and laptop, due to some technical difficulties on his end. Overall, it was easily accessible to everyone, and by a special link that had the meeting information baked into it. As a bonus, one of our attendees was Jeff Patterson, who moved away a couple years ago and now lives in the Atlanta region.

Some of the nice features of Zoom:

  • A stackable view of the videos for all attendees.
  • An integrated chat capability for sharing comments, links, etc.
  • Screen Sharing (which we used a couple of times).
  • Meeting recordings—to be kept around for about a week in case someone wants to revisit a key part of the meeting.
  • Flexible Audio and Video Controls, i.e. – you can mute your audio and turn off your video whenever you want.
  • Custom Backgrounds: In case you don’t want to show your house, or if you just want to have fun, you can have a custom background behind you. In my case, I chose to look like I was sitting in a fantasy bar.

All in all, it’s a pretty effective way to run a meeting.

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Coming Soon (Lockdown Edition)

Coming Soon

LockdownWelcome to the Lockdown edition of my irregularly scheduled Coming Soon feature.

I’ve been a little preoccupied lately, as I’m sure everybody else has, too. Like millions of other people, I’m in lockdown thanks to the Coronavirus Pandemic. And especially careful because my wife is one of those “at risk” people. I’m at least lucky enough that my Day Job is considered critical, and is thus continuing uninterrupted. Even better, the Day Job is in IT, so I’m fortunate enough to be able to work at home without any significant problems.

Here in Virginia, the governor just issued a stay-at-home order through June 11th at least. So, to the best of my ability, I’m going to use this time to finish, or at least make significant progress on, a bunch of my writing and publishing projects.

Without further ado, here are the main projects I’ve got going on right now:

  • Clash by Night: This novella was originally published in an anthology called The Curator. It’s a relatively near future SF military heist. So, another one of my mashups. I commissioned a nice action cover from Luca Oleastri. I just need to finalize the Extras that I put in my solo publications, finish formatting the ebook, and publish. This was supposed to happen in March, but it looks like it’s gonna be April.

  • Finders Keepers: I’m in the process of finishing this novella, a cyberpunk-ish crime story. It’s targeted for an anthology called Black Markets, which should be published in early summer. Set in the same universe as my story Clash by Night, and includes a relative of one of the mercenaries from that story.

  • Fantastic Defenders (Hardcover): This one’s been hanging around in my queue for way too long. I’m publishing a hardcover edition of Fantastic Defenders, a fantasy anthology that I co-edited with Donna Royston. That should be published sometime in April, if I can get through the logistics.

  • The Forever Inn: This is an anthology of stories taking place in a shared setting, an inn that can appear anywhere in the multiverse. Currently working with Donna Royston on editing received stories, and expect to publish this later on this year.

  • Death Comes to Town: This is a fantasy novella that was originally published in an anthology called The Outsiders. It’s another mashup (crime, fantasy, and horror) set in my Thousand Kingdoms universe. I’d like to publish it solo in July, as an ebook and a trade paperback. I just need to find a good cover for it.

  • Capclave 2020 Workshops: For the second year in a row, I’m the Workshop Coordinator for Capclave. I need to have a solid slate of 10 – 12 hours worth of workshop content by mid-July, for a convention I’m not completely sure will be happening, since the CDC is expecting a Coronavirus resurgence in the fall.

  • Pivot Point: I’ve dusted off this novella after letting the first draft percolate for over a year. It’s a mashup of steampunk and military SF. Now that I’ve got some distance, I’m working on the second draft edits. It’s targeted as an anchor story for a military steampunk anthology that I’d like to publish sometime next year.

  • The Long Road to Tomorrow: I’m actively looking for a new cover for this novelette, formerly published as The Good Book. Frankly, it’s hard to figure out what sucked more…the original title or the cover. I’ll re-launch this with the new title as soon as I find the right cover illustration.

  • Road Trip: I’m actively looking for a new cover for this novelette, originally published in the anthology Reliquary, on the theme of relics. Print edition and ebook are ready; all I need is a cover.

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Inspiration: Absent Night Hawks

Absent Night Hawks

Inspired by Edward Hopper’s famous painting, Nigh Hawks, here’s the coronavirus-inspired version of the same painting.

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Inspiration: Alien Migration

The Great Migration, by Piotrdura

I think this is a great illustration that captures the majesty and sheer awe of the migration of some large wildlife on a far-off alien planet.

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Dublin 2019 Souvenir Book

Dublin 2019 Souvenir Book An interesting thing happened today. I received the Dublin 2019 Souvenir Book in the mail, the official commemorative book celebrating the 77th World Science Fiction, which was held last summer in Dublin, Ireland.

I was supposed to get it when I showed up for the convention…but they’d run out by the time I got there. The good T-shirts had run out, too, so I never bought any wearable swag. This was a theme for the convention, because the con runners ended up getting far more attendees than they expected. My personal guess is that they got about twice what the main venue could actually handle.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I had a splendid time in Ireland, and a great time at the convention. And the con runners clearly did their absolute best to accommodate the crowd of almost 7000 attendees, including closing membership sales down (there were no at-the-event membership sales), adding more space in a (relatively) nearby movie theater complex, and practicing strict crowd control measures to regulate access to any programming sessions.

Mostly, I’m tickled pink to finally get my souvenir book for the Worldcon…six months after the event. I read through most of it tonight, and had a great time refreshing my memory about so many of the cool things associated with the convention, from learning more about the guests to seeing who’s bidding to host Worldcon in the future.

Thanks, Dublin.

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Badge of Honor: I’ve Been Pirated

Hourlings Anthologies

Well, I guess that the Hourlings, my writing group, and by extension, myself, have achieved a new badge of honor in the world of publishing. We’ve been pirated.

And, no, I’m not going to say where, or provide the URL. I refuse to give bad actors any free advertising.

Anyway, the Hourlings publishes a new anthology just about every year. The first three anthologies in the image above were found on a pirate site, where they could be downloaded for free. The books have since been taken down after a DMCA complaint was filed.

You know you’ve arrived when pirates find it worthwhile to steal your work.

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Fantastic Defenders: Hardcover Preview

Fantastic Defenders, Hardcover Cover

There’s a hardcover of my anthology, Fantastic Defenders, coming out in March. The anthology was edited by myself and Donna Royston, and was published in mid-2017 in the trade paperback and ebook formats. It’s sold well enough that Tannhauser Press is coming out with a hardcover edition.

So, above, you’ll see a preview of the full wraparound cover, including flaps, for the hardcover edition of the book.

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