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Cool Stuff Friday

Friday would like to remind you all to back up your important data!

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


Updatery of the Week

Two good things have happened this week.

  1. After a month, the place trying to pull data off my old hard drive finally finished and got that back to me.
  2. My agent emailed with some minor notes on my middle grade novel. It sounds like once I go through these, we should (hopefully) be able to start submitting it to publishers.

Of course, there are down sides. With the hard drive, I’d had most of my stuff backed up already. Most…but not all. So I’ve been going through all of the files and partial files they salvaged, trying to make sure I’ve got everything. Probably 90% of what’s on this backup drive is redundant, but I’m paranoid. So I’m trying to manage how much time I spend on that.

And before you ask or offer suggestions, yes, I’m modifying my backup processes accordingly.

I’m really excited about the middle grade novel, but I also have another novel deadline coming up. I’m going to try to keep my head down and see if I can get all of the agent’s notes addressed today so I can get this off my pile and back onto his, which would let me focus all most of my attention on the remaining book.

And that’s why I’m keeping this short, because there’s a bunch of other stuff I’d love to babble about, but right now I need to focus on making some novel progress.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

On Rape Jokes and Normalizing Assault

A few people have commented on this part of yesterday’s blog post about sexual assault and excuses:

And then you have the guys who say they’ve never heard such things. Really? Never? As common as sexual assault is in this country, you’ve never heard anyone boasting about a problematic encounter? Never heard anyone glorifying assault, talking about what they could do, what they could get away with? Never heard the jokes about getting women drunk in order to get them into bed rape them?

I have no problem accepting that most people aren’t as blunt, vulgar, and obvious about such remarks as Trump was in that video clip. And I’m obviously not in any position to point out examples in people’s real lives. So instead, I figured I’d list some examples of this kind of boasting, glorification, and normalization from shows most of us are probably familiar with.

Let’s start with Avengers: Age of Ultron, wherein Tony Stark jokes, “I will be reinstituting prima nocta.” For those unfamiliar, prima nocta is the historical right of a lord to have sex with rape any woman he chooses on her wedding night. But it’s not like Tony’s actually boasting about sexually assaulting women, right? It’s just a gross, sexist joke, isn’t it?

So how about the Big Bang Theory, where we see this “hilarious” scene of Howard using a remote control car with a video camera to look up Penny’s skirt. (This is one of many, many problematic examples from that particular show.)

Going back a little further to Friends, there’s an episode where Joey realizes his tailor has been sexually abusing him for years. Laugh track is included to make sure you know how hilarious this is. (There are plenty of other messed-up bits in this show as well, including the “Taking care of a drunk naked woman sounds like a job for Joey” line, followed by Joey starting off to do just that, only to be stopped by Chandler.)

The Harry Potter films never question the fact that Fred and George are selling what are, in essence, a magical date rape drug. When Ron is drugged by a love potion, it’s once again played for laughs, and never challenged or confronted.

How I Met Your Mother had Barney struggling with a Very Serious Problem: “How Can I Have Sex With Robin Again?” His solution? To get her drunk at Ted’s wedding. (This is one of many shows where, if you’ve watched it, then yes, you have heard the jokes about getting people drunk in order to get past their unwillingness to have sex rape them.)

None of these are as blunt and vulgar as Trump’s quote. All of them normalize and minimize sexual harassment and/or assault. They suggest it’s normal for guys to not worry about pesky things like consent. They teach that the proper response to being sexually harassed is laughter and maybe mild, quickly-forgotten annoyance.

I can’t say what people see and hear — or don’t — in their day to day interactions with other people. Some of us are less social and outgoing than others, and hopefully we’ve mostly tried to surround ourselves with decent human beings. But as common and prevalent as this stuff is in our media and our culture, it’s hard for me to imagine never hearing any of it in real life.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


Cool Stuff Friday

Friday does not recommend trying to put your cats in Halloween costumes. Cats have too many pointy bits.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


Content warning for discussion of sexual assault and harassment.

Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Firing From Worldcon Staff

While I was at Imaginarium this weekend, I caught bits and pieces of information about David Weingart being fired from Worldcon.

I debated whether or not to shine more light and attention on this. In part, I was concerned because Dave’s posts included a screen shot and information that was used by some to track down the victim, which led to threats and harassment against said victim. It sounds like this was at least in part from followers of Theodore Beale. I don’t believe this was what Dave intended, but it happened. Dave has since pulled that screenshot and his posts.

As it’s been discussed and debated publicly, I decided to try to pull together what information I could.

  1. My Side of the Story: A livejournal post (now private) from David Weingart, dated 10/5. Dave talks about being fired from music programming at Worldcon.
    • Another individual on staff was uncomfortable with Dave for reasons unknown and had, a year or two back, asked him not to interact with her.
    • Dave and Worldcon worked out an arrangement where he would volunteer, but would respect certain boundaries and avoid contacting or interacting with her.
    • Dave posted a lighthearted comment on a Worldcon staff chat board.
    • He realized he’d responded right after a comment from the aforementioned individual.
    • Worldcon contacted him about this violation of their arrangement, and suggested new boundaries that would among other things restrict Dave from all-staff chats.
    • Dave refused these new restrictions, and was then fired.
  2. A Followup Request: Weingart wrote another post (now private) on 10/7, saying, “There’s one thing that I don’t like about some of what I’m hearing though. People are rushing to judge or speculate on [name redacted]’s mental health. Please don’t … Please, please, PLEASE do not speculate on her mental state and descend to name-calling (and if you must, please do not do it on my account). Please don’t be unkind to someone who is (as far as I can tell) hurting.”
  3. Worldcon 75’s Public Statement: On 10/8, Worldcon posted a relatively brief statement (now deleted). “David Weingart was recently dismissed from Worldcon 75 Staff for failing to abide by an agreement he had made to not interact with another staff member who reported feeling stalked by him in the past. The agreement had allowed both valued staff members to work on Worldcon 75 for several months. Once broken, David refused to recommit to a course of action intended to prevent problematic interactions from happening again, and refused to accept responsibility for his actions or impact.” They also offered an apology to the other staffer, who was now being harassed and threatened as a result of the public discussion.
  4. Worldcon Apologizes: On 10/11, Worldcon posted an apology to both Weingart and the victim. “Worldcon 75 would like to apologise for the grave mishandling of a personnel issue over the past few weeks, in particular regarding communication, the delays in our responses, and for our role in escalating the situation. Specifically, we would like to apologise to both our current and former staffers, who are now experiencing harassment from various parties. We would also like to apologise to our staff and to the Worldcon community at large for the lack of transparency in how this issue was handled and for our missteps in communication about it.” They also spelled out steps they would be taken to improve things moving forward, and solicited input and feedback at feedback@worldcon.fi.
  5. Other Details: There was other discussion online, including claims and counterclaims about things like whether or not this was the first time Weingart had posted on that board, how many times he responded to the other individual’s comment, and more. Short version — I simply don’t know all the facts.


As this was playing out, there was a lot of anger on all sides. Some were furious that Weingart — a good person and hard worker — was being punished. There was talk about harassment policies being misused or abused as a tool to carry out personal vendettas.

At the same time, we had the anger and frustration that any time a convention actually enforces their harassment policy, they’re immediately subjected to public scrutiny and forced to defend and justify every minuscule piece of evidence that went into their decision. Something we generally don’t ask or expect when cons enforce other aspects of their policies.

I don’t know all that happened. But, as usual, I do have some thoughts…

The Beale Effect: I’m bemused at how effectively Theodore Beale managed to unite Worldcon and Weingart, both of whom came together as if to say, “Oh hell no. F**k that guy.” As soon as Beale jumped in, Weingart pulled his posts, Worldcon called Weingart to apologize, then posted their public apology. It pretty much ended the public dispute right there.

Tuesday-Afternoon Quarterbacking: I wasn’t there, and I wasn’t part of the decision-making process. But as I understand it, Weingart notified the staff from the beginning that the other individual had set boundaries about not wanting to interact or work with him. Bringing Weingart on but restricting his interactions seems like a solution destined to cause problems. If this other individual was already working for the con, my hindsight solution would be to simply not bring Weingart on staff. Yeah, it might mean losing a good volunteer in Weingart, but it would have more effectively respected the other individual’s boundaries, and would have avoided the mess that eventually followed.

Yeah, But… Doesn’t that mean all it takes is for someone to say, “I’m uncomfortable with Person X,” and then Person X doesn’t get to volunteer or work for a convention? And isn’t that why people are so worried about…

Weaponized Harassment Policies: To me, this falls into the same category as false rape accusations. Is it possible for someone to make false accusations of harassment, or to use such policies to try to punish someone they don’t like? Anything’s possible, yes. Is there any evidence whatsoever to suggest it happens more than once in a blue moon? Not that I’m aware of. But, like false rape accusations, the idea that people are using harassment policies as weapons of personal vendetta comes up with ridiculous, even obscene frequency.

A well-written harassment policy doesn’t give any one individual that kind of vindictive power. The decisions made regarding Weingart involved not only the victim, but multiple senior staff at Worldcon. Those staff have admitted to mishandling the situation, yes. But that’s a far cry from some sort of scheme or conspiracy to “get” Weingart. (Also, that mishandling doesn’t necessarily mean their final decision to fire Weingart was wrong.)

Boundaries: I’m a strong believer in boundaries. In stating, respecting, and enforcing them. It can suck to be on the receiving end, to have someone tell you they want no more contact or interaction with you. Especially if they don’t give you a reason, or you don’t understand their reason. But once that boundary is stated, you’ve got to respect it. Even if you think it’s unfair. Even if you just want to understand. Even if you just want to apologize. Every reason to violate someone’s boundary is about you, not them. Your confusion. Your hurt. Your need to apologize.

I think this is where some of the conflict comes from in these situations (and this isn’t specifically about Weingart and Worldcon). If you feel like you have a really good reason to cross that boundary, and you’re not doing it with any harmful intention, why should you face consequences? Because it’s not about you. It’s not about your intentions. It’s about the person who set that boundary, and your choice to violate it.

ETA: To clarify, Worldcon did not have their harassment policy finalized or in place during all this. (The convention isn’t until August of 2017.) While much of the discussion and debate got into harassment policies, this particular incident was about a specific arrangement between Worldcon, Weingart, and the other volunteer.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Posing for Pixels

The Pixel Project is an ongoing campaign raising money to help end violence against women. This year, they’ve somehow managed to convince authors Chuck Wendig, Tee Morris, and myself to do some genderswapped cover poses. That’s right, you’ll get not one, but three middle-aged, bearded white guys in glasses, all trying to contort ourselves into some rather ridiculous positions. They’re calling it:


If you go to the site, you can vote for which of the three poses you’d like us to do when and if we reach the fundraising goal.

Cover Pose Options

But wait, there’s more! Donate $500 or more, and you get to choose an extra cover for Tee and I to try to duplicate. (Please…be gentle.)

It’s been a while since I’ve done any cover posing. I’m a little older and a little creakier than I was back in 2012, but I’m willing to recontort my spine once more for a good cause. Especially since Chuck and Tee will be doing it too 🙂

In summary?

  1. Vote here
  2. Donate here

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Imaginarium This Weekend

I’m one of the “Imaginator” guests at the Imaginarium Convention this weekend in Kentucky. My schedule, which I believe is final, looks like so:


  • 6-7: Beyond the Warrior Looking for Love


  • 11-Noon: How to Fracture a Fairy Tale
  • 1-2: Imposter Syndrome
  • 5-6: Imaginator Q&A with Jim C. Hines
  • 6-7: Autographing


  • Noon-1 (Tentative, given my flight schedule): Humor in Fiction

The convention is also hosting the Imadjinn Awards, and I’m honored to say that Invisible 2 is one of the finalists in the Best Anthology category.

Anyone else planning to be at this one?

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Searching For Revisionary Goofs

Revisionary - Cover Art by Gene MollicaThe mass market paperback edition of Revisionary comes out in February. This means I have a whole new set of page proofs to review.

If you’ve read the hardcover (thank you!) and noticed any typos or other problems, now would be the perfect time to let me know so we can get those fixed for the paperback release. You can comment here or shoot me an email at jchines -at- sff.net.

In other news, I’m still working on backup machines while I wait for the new PC to arrive, which is why blogging and email and such has been a bit sparse. Hopefully that will all be resolved by the end of the week!

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Prepping for FenCon

Only one day until I leave for FenCon, where I get to do the author Guest of Honor thing and hang out with folks like Toastmaster Esther Friesner, musical guests Bill and Brenda Sutton, fan guest Sara Felix, science guest (and one of my Launch Pad instructors) Mike Brotherton, and more.

They’ve got my schedule posted on the website. For the reading on Friday, I’m leaning toward something out of the YA fantasy I finished earlier this year. They also gave me an hour on Saturday for a keynote speech. (While I may speechify a little, I suspect there will be a lot of back-and-forth, Q&A stuff too.)

So, who else is going to be there?

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


Minor Technical Difficulties

My main computer’s hard drive died yesterday. Most everything is backed up, including all but the last few days of my writing progress. (My photos, on the other hand, are in the hands of the local computer shop to see how much data they can salvage off the drive. I’m pretty hopeful they’ll be able to get most of it.)

In the meantime, I may be a bit sparse online.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Cool Stuff Friday

Friday has a cold and would like to go back to sleep now please.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


Yassmin Abdel-Magied had an article in The Guardian this weekend, talking about her choice to walk out of the keynote speech at the Brisbane Writer’s Festival.

Today, The Guardian followed up with the full speech from American author and journalist Lionel Shriver.

Shriver begins her speech by describing herself as an iconoclast, and claiming:

“Taken to their logical conclusion, ideologies recently come into vogue challenge our right to write fiction at all. Meanwhile, the kind of fiction we are ‘allowed’ to write is in danger of becoming so hedged, so circumscribed, so tippy-toe, that we’d indeed be better off not writing the anodyne drivel to begin with.”

xkcd: citation needed

Look, if you’re going to claim you’re not allowed to write a certain type of fiction, you need to back that up. Instead, Shriver presents the example of a party at Bowdoin College, wherein hosts were punished for passing out sombreros at a tequila-themed party. You can read more about that incident and form your own opinions. It’s interesting to note that this wasn’t an isolated incident at the school. “Last fall the school’s sailing team hosted a ‘gangster’ party where attendees were encouraged to wear stereotypical black clothing and accessories,” and “In the fall of 2014, Bowdoin’s lacrosse team held what was billed as a ‘Cracksgiving’ party that featured students wearing Native American garb.”

ETA: As pointed out by Sarah on Facebook, Bowdoin also has a hard liquor ban, so the sombreros were not the only problem/violation at the party in question.

Shriver goes on  about sombreros and Mexican restaurants, and ends on a familiar refrain:

“For my part, as a German-American on both sides, I’m more than happy for anyone who doesn’t share my genetic pedigree to don a Tyrolean hat, pull on some leiderhosen, pour themselves a weisbier, and belt out the Hoffbrauhaus Song.”

It’s practically a BINGO square in conversations about racism and cultural appropriation. You can’t talk about Native American sports mascots, for example, without white people popping up to say they’re Irish and don’t object to Notre Dame’s “Fighting Irish” mascot, so why do those “oversensitive” Native American’s object to the “Redskins”? Could it be that the situation faced by Native Americans today isn’t the same as that faced by Irish Americans? Likewise, life in this country for someone of Mexican descent is very different from that of someone like Shriver.

But what does all of this have to do with writing and the freedom to write fiction? Shriver continues:

“The moral of the sombrero scandals is clear: you’re not supposed to try on other people’s hats. Yet that’s what we’re paid to do, isn’t it? Step into other people’s shoes, and try on their hats.

In the latest ethos, which has spun well beyond college campuses in short order, any tradition, any experience, any costume, any way of doing and saying things, that is associated with a minority or disadvantaged group is ring-fenced: look-but-don’t-touch. Those who embrace a vast range of ‘identities’ – ethnicities, nationalities, races, sexual and gender categories, classes of economic under-privilege and disability – are now encouraged to be possessive of their experience and to regard other peoples’ attempts to participate in their lives and traditions, either actively or imaginatively, as a form of theft.”

Shriver’s phrasing is fascinating. “Those who embrace a vast range of ‘identities’ … are now encouraged to be possessive of their experience…” Shriver is a professional writer, so I assume her use of passive voice is deliberate. Reading her description, it’s like she sees these people from marginalized groups as puppets being manipulated into building a fence around their experiences and traditions.

Encouraged and manipulated by whom, I wonder. Shriver never says. But it’s a telling bit of wordplay, one that strips marginalized groups of agency.

Shriver goes on to give examples of books in which authors wrote about characters and groups that weren’t like them, which also gives her the chance to drop this bit of grossness:

“…Having his skin darkened – Michael Jackson in reverse – Griffin found out what it was like to live as a black man in the segregated American South.”

A white person having their skin darkened is “Michael Jackson in reverse”?

  1. Google the word vitiligo.
  2. Thanks, I guess, for demonstrating the failure mode of clever.

Shriver continues:

“However are we fiction writers to seek ‘permission’ to use a character from another race or culture, or to employ the vernacular of a group to which we don’t belong? Do we set up a stand on the corner and approach passers-by with a clipboard, getting signatures that grant limited rights to employ an Indonesian character in Chapter Twelve, the way political volunteers get a candidate on the ballot?”


It must be so much easier to argue when you just make crap up. Nobody is saying Shriver is never allowed to use an Indonesian character in chapter twelve. No one is saying she’s not allowed to write about characters from other cultures and groups. The Fiction Police are not going to kick down her door, seize her computer, and lock her up in prison for 20 years on Aggravated Cultural Appropriation in the Second Degree.

But wait, Shriver has examples! They’re not about writing, but still…

“So far, the majority of these farcical cases of ‘appropriation’ have concentrated on fashion, dance, and music: At the American Music Awards 2013, Katy Perry got it in the neck for dressing like a geisha. According to the Arab-American writer Randa Jarrar, for someone like me to practice belly dancing is ‘white appropriation of Eastern dance,’ while according to the Daily Beast Iggy Azalea committed ‘cultural crimes’ by imitating African rap and speaking in a ‘blaccent’.”

This is why Katy Perry is no longer allowed to make music. This is why all white belly dancers were arrested in the Great White Naval Purge of 2015. This is why Iggy Azalea is legally required to wear a gag when in public.

Except, of course, none of that happened. What did happen is people expressed opinions. They said they were offended. They might even have (gasp) gotten angry.

Maybe Shriver is one of those “special snowflakes” we’ve been hearing about recently. It’s not that she as a writer isn’t allowed to write about other groups. It’s that she wants to be able to do so without anyone complaining. Without any pushback if she screws up. Without people getting angry. Without anyone daring to write negative reviews about her work, like the one she talked about in her speech:

“Behold, the reviewer in the Washington Post, who groundlessly accused [my] book of being ‘racist’ because it doesn’t toe a strict Democratic Party line in its political outlook, described the scene thus: ‘The Mandibles are white. Luella, the single African American in the family, arrives in Brooklyn incontinent and demented. She needs to be physically restrained. As their fortunes become ever more dire and the family assembles for a perilous trek through the streets of lawless New York, she’s held at the end of a leash. If The Mandibles is ever made into a film, my suggestion is that this image not be employed for the movie poster.'”

Behold, Shriver’s takeaway from this review: “Your author, by implication, yearns to bring back slavery.”

Sokka Facepalm gif

Maybe she simply doesn’t get it.

Strike that. I think we can say pretty definitively that she doesn’t get it. Nor do I suspect she wants to.

Turning to another example, J. K. Rowling has received a lot of criticism lately for her portrayal of Native Americans in the history and backstory of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. This criticism is not because she dared to refer to Native characters and history in the story. It’s because she did so badly. Because she took sacred beliefs she didn’t understand, and played with them — stretching and distorting and changing and basically pissing all over beliefs people have fought and died to preserve. Beliefs white people have spent centuries trying to eradicate. Rowling’s distortions and portrayal? They’re one more piece of that attempted eradication.

Does this mean Rowling’s not allowed to publish her book? Don’t be absurd. Rowling could write 200 pages about Hagrid’s belly button lint and publishers would line up to publish it. She’s allowed to write and publish it.

And others are allowed to criticize, to point out the harm she’s doing, and to believe she was wrong to write and publish the story the way she did.

Back to Shriver:

“I confess that this climate of scrutiny has got under my skin. When I was first starting out as a novelist, I didn’t hesitate to write black characters, for example, or to avail myself of black dialects, for which, having grown up in the American South, I had a pretty good ear. I am now much more anxious about depicting characters of different races, and accents make me nervous.”

Shriver is now a bit more anxious about how she depicts characters of other races. Somehow, I’m having trouble seeing this as a bad thing. Knowing people will be scrutinizing our writing pushes us to do better. (Okay, sometimes it leads to defensiveness and bizarre accusations that reviewers think you want to bring back slavery, but we can hope for the best, right?)

As a writer, I do have the freedom to write whatever I want. But to my mind, with great freedom comes great responsibility. I have an obligation to get it right, to the best of my ability. To recognize the power of stories. To understand that publishing is not an equal playing field, any more than the world as a whole. To listen. To recognize that there are some stories I’m not the best person, or the right person, to tell.

There’s so much more to say about all this, but we’re already well past tl;dr length. For those who want to better understand the conversation around writing, cultural appropriation, and so on, I recommend the following resources:





Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Kat, Incorrigible, by Stephanie Burgis

Kat, Incorrigible cover artAt a group booksigning in Lansing last month, I snagged an autographed copy of Stephanie Burgis‘ debut middle grade fantasy Kat, Incorrigible [Amazon | B&N | IndieBound]. It’s a fun read, which the publisher describes thusly:

Twelve-year-old Katherine Ann Stephenson has just discovered that she’s inherited her late mother’s magical talents, and despite Stepmama’s stern objections, she’s determined to learn how to use them. But with her eldest sister Elissa’s intended fiancé, the sinister Sir Neville, showing a dangerous interest in Kat’s magical potential; her other sister, Angeline, wreaking romantic havoc with her own witchcraft; and a highwayman lurking in the forest, Kat’s reckless heroism will be tested to the utmost. If she can learn to control her new powers, will Kat be able to rescue her family and win her sisters their true loves?

In this charming blend of Jane Austen-era culture, magical whimsy, and rollicking adventure, readers will find a true friend in the refreshingly unladylike Kat Stephenson.

One of my favorite parts of the book was Kat’s relationship with her two sisters, and the development of each of those three characters. All three of them are strong and determined to do what they think is best, and they all have different and conflicting ideas of what “best” means, which causes wonderful familial conflict. I love that they’re all powerful, and it’s different power for each one.

This is book one of a trilogy, and you definitely start to see the larger magical world, with its wonders and dangers both. The strong, often rigid societal rules of Kat’s mundane world are reflected in the magic one as well, and Kat has little patience for them in either world.

The publisher described it as “charming,” and I think that’s the perfect word for the book. There’s fun and adventure and magic and a rebellious magical heroine, all of which make for a good read. But what separates this story from the pack is the development of Kat, Angeline, and Elissa. Watching them love and care for one another while simultaneously getting so infuriated was wonderful. All three are active characters trying to take control of their own lives. They all make mistakes — sometimes heartbreaking ones — but they never stop trying to do what’s right.

And you’ve gotta love a book that manages to present and dump a traditional trope within its first two sentences!

You can read the first two chapters on Burgis’ website.


Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

A Few Details on My New Series

I’ve been working on the first book of an unnamed science fiction series for a little while. Well, I’m happy to announce that series is unnamed no more! As of today, I am officially working on Terminal Alliance, book one in the Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse series!

Here’s the sales summary I sent to my editor:

When the Krakau came to Earth, they planned to invite humanity into a growing alliance of sentient species.

This would have worked out better for all involved if they hadn’t arrived after a mutated plague wiped out half the planet, turned the rest into shambling, near-unstoppable animals, and basically destroyed human civilization. You know — your standard apocalypse.

The Krakau’s first impulse was to turn their ships around and go home. After all, it’s hard to establish diplomatic relations with mindless savages who eat your diplomats.

Their second impulse was to try to fix us.

A century later, human beings might not be what they once were, but at least they’re no longer trying to eat everyone. Mostly.

Right now, we’re hoping for a late summer/early fall 2017 release. Assuming I get off my butt — I mean, sit my butt down — and finish writing the thing.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Processing Zoey

Another photography post. Same disclaimer as before — I’m not a professional, and I’ve got plenty left to learn.

I snapped a quick shot of our dog Zoey the other day. It wasn’t perfect, but I figured I’d play around and see what I could do to salvage it. Here’s the original jpeg from the camera.


The first thing I did was open the RAW file and adjust white balance and color saturation. I also cropped and realigned it a bit.


Next step: Used Photoshop to remove that bit of Styrofoam in the lower right (with the clone stamp tool). I also added a contrast layer and used a hue/saturation layer to selectively brighten the reds, reducing Zoey’s chronically red eyes. Finally, I used the dodge tool to brighten her eyes a bit.


I added another masked layer to sharpen Zoey’s face. It can’t completely compensate for the blurriness of the photo — I took this shot inside, without much light, and the shutter speed was just too slow. But I think it helps some.

Zoey4At this point, I just start playing. I increased the contrast of her freckles, desaturated a bit, and added a vignette effect. I probably get carried away and overprocess things, but I’m having fun.

Zoey5More playing — I added an overlay layer and tweaked the saturation again.


I could keep going. This stuff is addictive. But my kid really wants someone to inflate the wading pool on his last day before school starts, so I suppose I should head outside and do that.

Anyway, I hope this was at least moderately interesting to folks!


Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

One Year as a Full-Time Writer

It’s been one year since I began my new life as a full-time writer.

In my fantasy world, I imagined I’d be producing a new book every month, with essays and short stories in between. I knew better, but it was a nice fantasy.

In reality, here’s what I’ve done over the past 12 months:

  • Final revision on Revisionary
  • Wrote, revised, and sent my first middle-grade fantasy manuscript to my agent
  • Sold my first SF trilogy to DAW
  • Finished the first draft of book one of said trilogy, and gotten about 35K through the rewrite
  • Wrote and sold a fantasy short story
  • Wrote and sold an article to io9
  • Wrote and sold an article to Uncanny Magazine
  • Prepped and self-published UK editions of the Princess books
  • Attended the Launch Pad astronomy workshop
  • Presented at the Lansing Rally of Writers and the MSU Young Author Conference

I also started a few short projects that didn’t end up going anywhere.

I’ll be honest, I’m glad I made that list. I’ve been feeling really unproductive for the past year. Looking back, there’s more I wish I’d gotten done, but that’s not a bad year at all. Especially since being a full-time writer doesn’t mean I get to write full-time. There’s also stuff like:

  • Grocery shopping
  • Doctor appointments for the kids
  • Dishes, vacuuming, and other housework
  • Prepping dinner most nights
  • Dealing with various school-related problems and crises
  • Chauffeuring kids to various activities
  • Catching Pokemon

Not to mention I’m still putting in ten hours/week for my old job. Most of that is telecommuting, but it’s still ten more hours each week.

All in all, this has been a good change for me. My writing productivity may not have rocketed upward as much as I’d hoped, but I’m less exhausted and less stressed. I’ve gotten to spend more time with my kids. I’m even exercising a little more, since I can take the dog for walks during the day or go Pokemon hunting in the neighborhood with my son.

It’s definitely harder making myself sit down and write when I’ve (theoretically) got the whole day to do it. Before, I wrote during lunch because it was the only guaranteed hour I had each day. Now, it’s too easy to say, “Eh, I’ll get to that later this afternoon.” I’m hoping to turn up the self-discipline again once the kids are both back in school next week.

Summer vacation has not been the most productive part of the past year…

Financially, there’s been a small hit. I left a good-paying job last year, and our savings has felt the impact. But I think overall, we’re steady. Selling that trilogy helped a lot, and we should be fine for at least the next several years. I am having to be a bit more careful with the spending, though. (No matter how much I might be drooling over the new Canon camera body or some of those lenses…)

My hope is to keep doing better than one book a year, plus extras. Terminal Alliance (the first SF book) has been challenging, but I’ll at least have some of the worldbuilding and character development done when I start in on the sequel, so that should help, right?

Hmph. Who am I kidding? Every book comes up with its own new and creative challenges.

Anyway, bottom line? I’m happier now, and I’ve written more than I would have otherwise. There’s plenty of room for improvement, but I’m calling Year One a victory.

Oh, and anyone else considering going full-time as an author, I should warn you there may be some side effects, as illustrated by this before and after photo…

Jim Before and After


Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


Jim C. Hines

My Books



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