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Jupiter Ascending

Jupiter Ascending PosterI’d seen a bit of buzz about Jupiter Ascending, both positive and negative. I didn’t get around to watching it until this week.

The science is absurd, the plot is completely over the top, and about 3/4 of the way through, I figured out why it was working for me.

Spoilers Beyond This Point

Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


NaNoWriMo Complete! Sort of…

Well, this is awkward.

Technically, the goal of NaNoWriMo is to write at least 50,000 words during the month of November. Well, I just typed THE END on the first draft of my book. A first draft which is 40,861 words in length. So, technically speaking, I have not won NaNoWriMo.

Go on. Ask me if I care.

Over the course of 25 days, I produced a complete first draft of a middle grade fantasy novel. Like most of my first drafts, this one is an utter mess. (My son is disappointed I won’t read this version to him, and he has to wait until at least draft two.) But it has a lot of fun ideas, and is just begging to be rewritten and cleaned up into what I hope will be a publishable novel.

I’m thrilled. This is exactly what I hoped I’d be able to accomplish. There were several days I wasn’t sure I’d make it. We had some family issues, and I had to scramble to get the page proofs done and turned back on Revisionary. There were also times I think I might have pushed myself a little too hard. I felt myself skirting depression once or twice as I struggled to get things done in the real world while also chiseling away at the word count.

Lessons learned:

  • I’m not the 25-year-old kid with no life who can do 80,000 words in a month. But I can do 40,000 in just under a month, and that’s pretty damn sweet.
  • First drafts are allowed to be broken. Stop beating yourself up for not being perfect the first time. (I have to relearn this one with every book, but I had to learn it harder this time.)
  • Have fun.
  • Goblins make everything better. So do chainsaws.
  • Concrete wordcount goals and public accountability (like the word count meter) work really well for me, but also increase stress.
  • Don’t neglect self-care.
  • First drafts, for me, are about throwing in every idea you can. Revision is for pruning some of those ideas and developing the ones you keep.
  • Next book: chainsaw-wielding goblins…

For my fellow NaNo writers, whatever your goals this month, whatever your triumphs and setbacks, whether you “won” or not, I hope you had fun. I hope you discovered something new. I hope you grew as a writer, and I hope you feel good about the work you’ve done.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go print out a manuscript.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


Revisionary – Preview

Revisionary - Cover Art by Gene MollicaRevisionary [Amazon | B&N | Indiebound], the fourth and final Magic ex Libris book, comes out on February 2, 2016. I finished up the final page proofs at the end of last week, which means I can officially share a preview of the first chapter.

If you haven’t read the other books, there will be spoilers. You have been warned…

I’ll be sad to move on from Isaac, Lena, Smudge, Nidhi, and the rest, but having read the book again over the past week or two, I’m very happy with how everything wraps up. And I should have some news to share relatively soon about what I’ll be doing next.

In the meantime, thanks to everyone who’s bought and borrowed and read and reviewed and shared and generally just enjoyed and supported these books. I hope you enjoy this installment.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

LosCon Schedule

This week has had more than its share of stuff. I’ve even missed my NaNoWriMo goals a few times, which always makes me cranky. On the other hand, I have probably-very-good-news on the book front I should be able to share soon, I’m mostly done with the aforementioned NaNo book (it needs a lot of revision, but who cares), and next week I get to fly out to Los Angeles to be Guest of Honor at LosCon.

So that’s pretty awesome.

Here’s my final schedule.


  • 2:30 – 4:00 pm, Marquis 2: To Publish or Not To Publish
  • 4:00 – 5:30 pm, Atlanta: Hell Hath No Fury
  • 6:00 – 7:00 pm, Marquis 4,5,6: Opening Ceremonies


  • 10:00 – 11:30 am, Atlanta: Independent Voices – From Writing to Publishing to Promoting
  • 1:00 – 2:30 pm, Marquis 1: Jim Hines Q&A
  • 4:00 – 5:30 pm, Boston: Geeks Got Your Back
  • 10:30 – 11:59 pm, Atlanta: Sexy vs Sexualized


  • 1:00 – 2:30 pm, Marquis 2: Pads or paper
  • 2:30 – 4:00 pm, Atlanta: Creating a Realistic Universe

There are a lot of really cool people at this one. I’m really looking forward to seeing and meeting folks!

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


Us Against Them, Part Whatever

I posted the following on Facebook yesterday:

Reading some people’s knee-jerk “Bomb ’em all!” responses to various attacks. It got me thinking about the Hunger Games series, and how President Snow responds to Katniss Everdeen’s actions in the 75th Hunger Games by bombing her entire district into oblivion.

Y’all understand Snow was one of the villains, right?

This generated a number of supportive comments, which is no surprise, given the amplification effects of social media. It also triggered arguments about gun control, religious intolerance, idealism vs. reality, and questions about my kid getting shot in the face.

Like most Americans, I don’t have a full understanding of life in the Middle East, the political and religious realities people there are living with. I do know that there are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. I know many of those Muslims in the Middle East live in regions of instability and war. I know many of them are on the ground fighting back against terror, or simply fighting to survive. Many are trying to escape threats like ISIS/Daesh.

We see innocent people murdered by terrorists, and we feel angry. We feel afraid. We feel powerless, and we want to do something. I get that.

Why are we afraid? What is it we’re afraid of? One American commenter talked about her fear of people who want to kill her for being female and not wearing a veil.

We’ve had a total of 26 people killed in jihadist attacks in the U.S. in the past decade. (Source) The most recent data I could find showed 24 U.S. citizens killed in terrorism incidents overseas in 2014. (Source)

In the meantime, three women are killed in the U.S. by their boyfriends every day. (Source) If we’re going to talk about threats against women, terrorists aren’t anywhere near the top of that list.

Or compare those terrorism numbers to the 11,208 firearms-related assault deaths in the U.S. in 2013, or the 4,913 non-firearms assault deaths. Hell, a U.S. citizen is 74 times more likely to die of the flu than of ISIS-style terrorists, but I don’t see anyone changing their Facebook icons to promote flu vaccines. (Source)

This doesn’t mean we should ignore terrorism. It doesn’t mean we turn our backs on the victims in Paris and Beirut and Baghdad and elsewhere.

What it means to me is that we need to do a better job of recognizing our fears, of assessing what it is we’re so afraid of, what we should be afraid of, and how we choose to respond to various threats. We’re so fired up about our war on terrorism. Where’s our war on domestic violence, which is a far greater threat to the people of the United States? Why are we so quick to fear in one case, but not another?

Some of it is media-fueled, of course. Terrorist attacks against white people get a lot of coverage, and so they take up a lot of real estate in our brains.

There’s also that ongoing Us vs. Them mentality. We see Muslims as “them,” no matter how many speak out against terror, no matter how many Muslims save lives in these attacks, no matter how many Muslims are on the ground fighting and dying in the ongoing battle against ISIS.

Emotions suck when it comes to understanding statistics.

Human beings have to be better than that. We have to be smarter.

I’m all for fighting against terrorism. I want my family and my country to be safe. I want innocent people to stop dying.

“Bomb the Muslims!” isn’t going to accomplish that. Turning our backs on people who need help, leaving them to suffer and die, isn’t going to accomplish that. Fear and hatred of Muslims isn’t going to accomplish that.

In fact, that very fear and hatred and intolerance is exactly what ISIS wants from us.

The Muslims in the West will quickly find themselves between one of two choices, they either apostatize and adopt the kufrī religion propagated by Bush, Obama, Blair, Cameron, Sarkozy, and Hollande in the name of Islam so as to live amongst the kuffār without hardship, or they perform hijrah to the Islamic State and thereby escape persecution from the crusader governments and citizens. (Source)

These terrorist attacks were committed with the goal of increasing our intolerance and our fear and our violent reactions, and in so doing, driving more people into the arms of ISIS.

I don’t have all the answers. But I know one thing. I have no intention of helping terrorists.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Latest Goblin Newsletter

The November 2015 edition of Jim’s newsletter went out this afternoon, courtesy of Klud the goblin scribe. As usual, I picked one subscriber at random to win an autographed book.

Last time I did one of these, I accidentally broke up Kermit and Miss Piggy. Who knows what’s going to happen this time around…

You can read it here, or subscribe here, if you’re interested. (And if not, that’s okay too.)

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

NaNoWriMo Pep Talk – Hitting the Wall

One of the Lansing municipal liaisons for NaNoWriMo asked if I’d write up a pep talk for week two. I decided to talk about that part in my process where the novelty and shininess has worn off, and I realize my outline is broken, and suddenly it feels like the story is crumbling in my hands, and what was I even thinking???

It happens with pretty much every book I write, usually around 1/4 to 1/3 of the way through the first draft.

Here’s an excerpt from the pep talk:

This is the time in Jim’s writing process where, like Charlie Brown kicking at that elusive football, I lose my footing and end up flat on my back, staring into the sky and wondering what the heck just happened.

My shiny new idea isn’t quite so shiny anymore. I’ve gotten lots of words down, but they don’t exactly match what I was imagining. And this next part of the outline doesn’t make any sense at all, now that I think about it more closely. Good grief, the Jim who was outlining this thing last month is an idiot. And now I have to fix his mess.

Everyone’s writing process is different, of course. You might zip through the entire month with never a doubt, never a stumble. (In which case I hate you a little bit.) But most of the writers I know, beginners and pros, hit a point at least once in every project, sometimes more, where everything feels like it’s falling apart.

I’ve got eleven books in print from major publishers, and about 33% of the way through writing every single one of them, I felt like I’d missed the football. I stared at the clouds and asked who had swapped my brilliant, perfect outline with this meandering, illogical, half-baked nonsense. This was it. I’d have to tell my publisher I’d failed. The whole world would finally know I’d been faking it all along.

Now for the good news. After twenty years, I know this is a normal part of my process. I know I can get through it. I know that once I climb back out of the Pit of Despair, I’ll discover that hey, maybe this book is pretty cool after all.

Ups and downs are a normal part of the writing process. It doesn’t mean we suck. It doesn’t mean we’re going to fail. It means we’re human. Our job isn’t to be perfect; it’s to get the story down.

You can read the whole thing in the NaNoWriMo Forums.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


Cool Stuff Friday

Friday has more than 11,000 words of new book!

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


NSFW Sex Ed Link

This is an odd one for the blog, but a Tumblr link the other day led me to a webcomic by Erika Moen called Oh Joy Sex Toy.

As you can probably guess, this is not a blog you probably want to be reading at work. It’s primarily a review blog focusing on sex toys, but Moen has also done some comics that are more purely educational.

The one I wanted to spotlight was her webcomic about how conception/pregnancy really works. This one comic was, in many ways, more informative than the entirety of the sex ed information I got in school. Given the state of sex ed here in the U.S., I figured it was worth sharing.

If you’re interested, she has all of her educational strips indexed on one page, covering everything from how emergency contraception works to “the terrible art of boner-hiding.”

Again, not safe for work, but she has a wonderfully open, honest, and welcoming style.

And while you’re reading (or not, if you prefer), I’m gonna get back to the writing. 8500 words and counting! :-)

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

NaNoWriMo Begins

Like a lot of other people, I started NaNoWriMo yesterday. I’m working on a short, hopefully-fun novel that isn’t currently under contract. If I crash and burn, I’m only out a month’s work. But I have high hopes, which should last for a few more days, at which point I traditionally get that sinking “what the heck am I doing this book sucks everything is darkness and despair” feeling. Ah, writing. Gotta love it.

But so far, so good. I’ve got two chapters done, and some fun bits coming in the next chapter. I’ve also noticed a few things about NaNo and myself.

  • I do better with a wordcount goal and some kind of accountability. Knowing I need to hit at least 1666 words a day, and that my updates will be publicly available on the NaNoWriMo website? That helps motivate me.
    • It might not motivate you, and that’s okay. Everyone’s writing process is different. If something helps, use it! If not, get rid of it and find something else. NaNo doesn’t work for everyone.
  • I still compare my progress to other people’s, and that’s bad. Having a lower wordcount than someone else doesn’t mean I’m losing. It doesn’t mean I suck as a writer. It means that person wrote more words than I did. So what? I need to focus on being happy with my own progress. If I like the words I’m producing, then I’m #Winning. Period.
  • Real Life is obnoxious. Even working from home, there are phone calls, vacuum repair salesmen (seriously!), grocery shopping, and other distractions. I know about some of these ahead of time. Nothing to do but plan the best I can, and roll with the hits when I can’t.
  • There’s no One Right Way to do NaNoWriMo. I’m doubtful I’ll make it to the regional gatherings, or that I’ll spend much time in the forums, and that’s okay. I’ve already got a support network of writers I can talk to if I need. (Although it might be fun to get out of the house…) Anyway, the point is, NaNo has grown an awful lot over the past decade and a half. There are a ton of tools and resources out there. Use what works, disregard the rest, and write on.
  • More fiction may mean less blogging. If I’m pushing myself harder to hit daily wordcount goals, I may have a harder time keeping up with the blog. But we’ll see.

I hope those of you who are participating are having fun, and those who aren’t … well, I hope you’re having fun too!

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


Julie Czerneda: I Think I’ll Call It Bob

Julie Czerneda

Photo by Roger Czerneda

I’m delighted to turn the blog over to author, friend, and generally wonderful human being Julie Czerneda. Her new book is This Gulf of Time and Stars [Amazon | B&N | IndieBound], the first in a new Clan Chronicles trilogy that will finally answer the question: Who are the Clan? Julie’s here chatting about the potential challenges of making up new names and words in speculative fiction, and oh can I relate…

As an added bonus, DAW is giving away a copy of the book to one of my lucky readers (from the U.S. or Canada), and Audible will be doing the same with a code to download the audio book. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment with your favorite made-up word, either from SF or elsewhere. (Make sure you also leave a way for me to get in touch with you.)

You can learn more about Julie’s blog tour on Facebook, or check out an audio sample of the new book, courtesy of Audible.com.


Picture this moment, if you will. I’m writing along at a happy clip, action underway, dialogue snappy, plot racing, and I say to myself, this isn’t so hard. Then, SMACK. I run into that bump in the writing road known as “What to Call It.”

Every writer hits those. (Don’t get me started on titles! That’s another post. Names for things—and characters—and places are bad enough.)

Before I sold my first book, I had a simple method. I’d hit keys until I had something cool looking.

I’ll let you ponder the wisdom of that.

With my very first book, I discovered making up words by how they look is less than ideal.

Sheila Gilbert is my editor/publisher at DAW. Her first revision comments for A Thousand Words for Stranger were prefaced with: “You’ve never said these names out loud, have you.”

Why would I? I thought. It’s a book. Aloud, with caution, “No.”

“You’ll need to,” she explained patiently. “When you read in public.”

I believe I was rendered speechless.

My editor-dear went on to read some of my made-up names to me, starting with “Pul.” In her light New Jersey accent, it came to my ear as “Peew-ul” Not good. So Pul di Sarc became Rael di Sarc. (In Beholder’s Eye Sheila caught me again. I’d come up with “Liccs” and “Scru.” Feel free not to ponder too long. Those I changed, and quickly.)

I now, sometimes, say my new words out loud. Not as often as I should; it makes me self-conscious and I giggle. Sometimes I’ll make a name almost unpronounceable on purpose, giving myself an out with a nickname. In Migration “Arslithissiangee Yip the Fourteenth” is “Fourteen.”*

Having learned how naming things and characters could mess me up? I changed tactics.

The Do-It-Later Approach

One way not to slam on the writerly brakes is to insert a searchable placeholder and keep going. I use 000. Good idea, because if I have a few of those, I can take my time and pick words that won’t conflict and might even work well together. For example, that’s how I wound up with comtech, comlink, etc.

Bad idea, because after a few are scattered through the text I begin to feel the manuscript is full of holes. Creepy!

Also, if I use 000 for more than one name? I end up wondering which 000 was whom, when. That way lies madness, trust me. These days, I try my best to fill them in as soon as possible. (Having them here makes me twitch, to be honest.)

The Modified Do-It-Later

A better approach, if you’ve the patience, is to insert a descriptive placeholder. For example [ADISGUSTINGHOTEL]. The advantage here is that you have a clue later what you were thinking at the time, and can move on quickly. I found this also helps me leave some of the descriptive details for later when I want to write quickly, a trick I learned from the inestimable—and insanely speedy—Ed Greenwood. It’s proven handy so long as I spot them all. Which didn’t happen my first go, so now I add in my searchable 000 string [000ADISGUSTINGHOTEL].

Occasionally, when reading these over, I giggle. Writing’s like that.

The Think-of-Them-All-First Approach

I suspect there are writers of vast virtue out there who do this. I’m not one of them. I manage to create a few names for things, while researching and noodling the plot, but the instant I’m ready to write a story, it’s full ahead at a happy clip, with bumps.

That said, I did myself—and the Clan Chronicles, including This Gulf of Time and Stars–an unexpected favour a few years ago. Back then, my inbox kept getting spammed. Rather than let myself get annoyed, I’d jot down the more interesting names before deleting. Soon I had the collection shown in small part here. To my joy—and perhaps with a smidge of righteous vengeance—my spammers proved perfect names for many of the Om’ray, and others.

Spam Names

Don’t Use Me Twice List

Because that happens. I named a planet in the Webshifters series “Paniccia.” Later, I became close friends with someone having that last name, totally forgot about the planet, and used her name for a character in the Clan books. I’m not telling you the others. These days, I keep a glossary of “Julie’s Wierd Words” (misspelled on purpose—the copyeditor is aware) for every book and series. I’d like to say I add words to it as I make them up, as a writer of Vast Virtue should.

Nope. I write down those I need to refer to as I go, such as all the people in a room, and leave the rest until I run the US spellcheck to dig out my Canadianisms before I send in my draft. I know it’ll pick up words I’ve made up, most of them anyway, and that’s when I enter them into the glossary, as well as add them to the dictionary for the book.

Because, misspelling your own made-up words happens ALL THE TIME. Copyeditors (Hi Paula!) are worth their weight in gold-pressed latinum, believe me.

Notebook JC-Glossary

Don’t Use Me Ever

I google each word I’ve made up, in case it isn’t a word I’ve made up. Trust me on that. On the flip side, I’ve encountered many unexpected tidbits of information along the way.

Then, There’s Consistency

Oh gods. You make up a single name and suddenly there are relatives and ancestors, let alone conventions for children or sexes or status, not to mention titles and nicknames and slang. Nothing says they’ll be the same for the people over there, because they aren’t here, are they. Think things and places are safer? Nope. I decided to make a setting more alien even to me by removing words such as “forest and tree and leaf” from my vocabulary in Reap the Wild Wind, a setting OF trees, no less. It worked, but there were times I’d stop and search on “leaf” to be sure. Readers have a right to expect a consistent use of a term. When you’re sticking random apostrophes in alien names (in my defense, it was my first book), they move! All by themselves!

Outside Input

Tuckerization is when you use a real person’s name in a book. It’s a fine way to raise funds for charity, and I’m proud to have done so, but it’s not always straightforward. A name may not fit the nomenclature of the story’s setting and need to be altered. I’ve had two people go together to bid on a character name, Ruth and Tim; fortunately, they were happy to combine their names into one: “Ruti Bowart,” from Ties of Power. Then there’s sequels, characters who must die, and so on. A topic for another blog post.

Shouting for Help

Every so often, I’m stuck. There’s nothing in sight to inspire (I do scramble words if I must. A Juicy Fruit label somehow inspired “Yihtor” in Thousand. Honest.) Or I suspect I’ve used a great word elsewhere (see above). Online friends to the rescue! I’ll post a plea on Facebook or Twitter and have an answer in seconds. Thank you all! Some of my favourite made-up words/names resulted from our quick interactions. My friend Janet dared me to use “Jim-bo Bob.” I did. “Janet Jim-bo Bob” is the Carasian in Reap. (Proper name: “Janex Jymbobobii,” but I couldn’t resist.) For In the Company of Others, I needed more names for the security unit on the Earth starship. Anyone who contacted me that day from my newsgroup is in there.

Readers Get It

The best thing about words in science fiction is the enormity of ready-made language at our fingertips. Anyone who’s read Andre Norton will know what I mean. Thanks to her and others, I can say blaster, spaceport, alien, teleport etc. and my readers stay with me. (If you’re curious about how many words science fiction folks have coined, check out the Oxford Dictionary Citation project which is now a book, Brave New Words. Note to self, get that.)

Genre-friendly words and scientific terms are jargon, however. Words we know and they don’t. I do pay attention to which might be a potentially fatal stumble for those coming fresh and new to science fiction. After all, we want such readers to stay and love this stuff too. Where I can, I put those terms in context as they come up, regardless of how familiar each seems to me. Or to you.

Other Bits of Fun, and Bob

Some names I give things are for fun. I’ve starships named after Canadian astronauts. Some characters share names with those on shows I love, such as Farscape. Sharp-eyed fans might have spotted a few Toronto Maple Leafs in Survival. And then, there’s Bob.

We have an old British expression in our family. “Bob’s your uncle.” It means, more or less, a tidy, pleasing finish to something. Well done. A wrap. At the end of Titan A.E., the main character suggests “Bob” for the name of humanity’s new world for good reason. Makes me laugh every time. I’ve used it in In the Company of Others the same way. Maybe somewhere else. Not telling.

I hear it makes an excellent working title for a book, too.

The takeaway from this? Made-up words are an essential part of building a world that isn’t like this one. It’s work and fun—and fraught with risk!—all at once. So when next you see a writer head down and scribbling frantically? Give them a moment.

They’ve thought of that new word.

This Gulf of Time and Stars

Thanks for hosting me, Jim. Love your words, by the way. “Fire-spider?” Genius!

* If you missed my recent interview with Allyson Johnson, voice actor for the Trade Pact and Gulf, check out her take on my made-up words here.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Cool Stuff Friday

Yes, I know. But I have a guest blog post running tomorrow, so you’re getting some cool stuff one day early!

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


ETA: On 10/28, the following was posted on the WFC2015 Facebook Page:

On reflection, and with guidance, we have realized that our sincere attempt to do the right thing in this regard was inadequate. We focused too much on complying with the legal advice of Saratoga authorities and not enough on making certain that our members feel confident in their safety at the Convention. Since last year’s WFC policy was considered satisfactory and is considered to be comprehensive we are adopting it as an addition to the policy developed with the legal advice of the Saratoga authorities. The World Fantasy Board is reviewing the language for comprehensiveness. The corrected policy will be posted here and on our website as soon as that review is completed. We apologize for the misstep and are doing our utmost to make WFC 2015 both an enjoyable event and a safe environment.


The 2015 World Fantasy Convention starts in just over a week, and they’ve just mailed out their final progress report. Natalie Luhrs was one of the first to note the inclusion of a harassment policy that manages to be, in my opinion, worse than no policy at all.

Luhrs’ thoughts are here. John Scalzi also weighed in, calling it an Egregious, Mealy-Mouthed Clump of Bullshit. There’s been much condemnation on Twitter, as well as on the WFC Facebook page.

Here’s the policy in question:

WFC 2015 Harassment Policy

Let me note up front that I don’t have experience running a convention. I do have experience dealing with sexual harassment and violence, and in working with conventions to build harassment policy. My guess from reading this is that the people who created this policy have conrunning experience, but don’t know a lot about dealing with sexual harassment. At least, I hope that’s the case, since the only other possibility I can come up with is intentional maliciousness. Because…

…this policy actively discourages people from reporting harassment.

  1. Victims of harassment and sexual violence should have the choice whether or not to report to the police. The convention has taken that choice away.
  2. This policy requires victims to trust that the police will take them seriously and respond to their complaints. Historically, police departments are not known for treating victims of sexual violence with respect. In addition, while I as a white male might feel relatively comfortable interacting with police, many women and people of color do not, and with valid reasons.
  3. The police will be determining if the conduct meets the legal definition of harassment to charge the offender. (I’m not a lawyer, but I thought that was the prosecutor’s decision.) What about behaviors that are clearly unacceptable, but might not meet the legal standards and be severe enough for the prosecutor to invest the time and money and resources in pressing charges?
  4. “No one wants to behave in a manner that draws Police attention.” I assume this was supposed to be a warning against would-be harassers, but it also feels like a warning to victims not to make a fuss and attract attention. Maybe that’s not the intention, but there’s a long history of silencing victims, and of attacking them for attracting attention.

But what about libel?

On Facebook, Chuck Rothman notes, “In New York State, ‘harassment’ is legally defined. Most harassment policies (including Comic Con’s) punish people for actions that are not harassment under NYS law. There is no doubt the NYS law needs updating, but the convention is not going to risk a libel lawsuit.

This is, in a word, bullshit. To me, it smells a lot like Wikipedia lawyering. Has anyone ever filed a libel lawsuit over a convention’s harassment policy?

Even if this were a legitimate concern, which I don’t believe it is, then the solution is to take 30 seconds and rename this a “Convention Safety Policy.”

Dear WFC: Do you want to fix this?

Your convention starts in a week. I’m guessing your program books are already printed, and you’re scrambling with all of the last-minute work it takes to make such a huge convention happen. You’re stressed, overwhelmed, and everyone’s running on caffeine and adrenaline. And now all anyone is talking about is how messed-up your harassment policy is.

I figure you’ve got two choices here. You can double down and ignore the complaints. This has the advantage that you don’t have to do the work to fix the policy. The disadvantage is that it would feel like a big old “Fuck you” to a large number of people. It also puts any victims of harassment in a very, very bad spot. Keep in mind that, as Natalie Luhrs pointed out, “three of the last five World Fantasy Conventions had harassment incidents that were publicized: 20102011, and 2013.” This doesn’t include incidents that weren’t publicized.

The other choice is to try to fix this. I know which choice I’m hoping for.

Can this actually be fixed?

Well, no. Not completely. You’ve pissed off a lot of people, and you’ve got nine days before the start of the convention. You can’t fix it. But you can work to make it better. Here are my suggestions, for what they’re worth.

  1. Listen to what people are saying. I know you feel defensive and attacked and unappreciated, but right now, you don’t have time for that.
  2. Find someone who has experience working with sexual harassment and conventions, and deputize them to get this mess fixed. Talk to conrunners from other conventions who’ve done a better job on this front.
  3. Grab a sample harassment policy from the Geek Feminism Wiki. If you’re worried about the boogeyman of a libel lawsuit, tweak the wording so it doesn’t say “harassment.” Get this posted to your website and printed up as an addendum to your program book. Send out a follow-up email/progress report with the new policy.
  4. Make sure all con staff are aware of the new policy and trained on how to respond. (Draw on the experiences and knowledge of the person from #2.)
  5. Apologize. Not a mealy-mouthed “We’re sorry you people chose to be offended,” but an apology that draws on #1 and recognizes why people are upset. You screwed up. Own it.

I’d also refer you to the Sexual Harassment Policy Starter Kit I posted a while back, with help from several experienced conrunners.


I hope you’ll listen to the concerns and complaints of the community and take steps to try to make World Fantasy Con a better experience for everyone.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


For the first time in 13 years, I intend to do National Novel Writing Month. (Which basically means writing at least 50,000 words of a novel during the month of November.)

My NaNo profile is here.

I’ve got a new project more than halfway outlined. My goal is to finish at least a first draft by the end of the month.

I know people have a whole range of opinions about NaNoWriMo, but for me? Well, let me put it this way. The first time I did a novel dare was in November of 2000. I wrote the entire first draft of a book called Goblin Quest.

I did another round in 2002, but that book ended up getting trunked. And as the family grew and the day job picked up, my writing process and habits changed, and I stopped doing NaNo and other writing dares.

But now the day job has been slashed back to 10 hours/week, and I’ve got a project I really want to do. I’d love to get this drafted before I change gears and start in on Project Bob. Wish me luck!

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Boycotts and “Ironic” Racism

So a handful of trolls decided to start a Boycott Star Wars VII hashtag on Twitter, claiming that the movie erases white male heroes and promotes white genocide and whatever. Star Wars: Aftermath author Chuck Wendig talks about it a bit here. The Mary Sue weighs in here. There’s been plenty of mockery, as well as folks pointing out some of the obvious irony. (Y’all know the most iconic figure in the franchise was voiced by a black man, right?)

There’s also folks pointing out that this was nothing but trolls begging for attention, and that the internet fell for it. Ah, internet. So gullible!

Nelson - Ha ha!

I read some of the 4chan board so you don’t have to. I can’t read minds, but yeah, there’s a good chance folks were stirring shit for attention and LOLs. But here’s the thing. You know Clarke’s Law? The one that says any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic? Well…

Any sufficiently hateful trolling is indistinguishable from bigotry.

The same folks crowing about how they suckered those stupid SJWs into reacting are also going on about how the black protagonist in The Force Awakens looks like a gorilla, how they can’t reshoot the film just because the protagonist is a n****r, and worse. Are these people trying to be ironically racist, or are they just bigoted assholes?

As it turns out, I don’t actually give a shit. Whether they truly believe a more diverse cast in Star Wars = promoting white genocide, that’s the message they’ve chosen to spread, and whatever the original intent, that message has attracted others. It’s become a magnet for spreading racism and antisemitism and hate.

If you punch me in the face, do you think I care whether or not you were doing it “ironically”?

If you truly believe that casting a black man and a white woman as leads in a Star Wars movie should be equated to genocide, you’re a racist asshole. But if you believe stirring up talk of boycotting Star Wars because they cast a black man and a white woman is a good way to get attention? You’re also a racist asshole.

Stormtrooper: middle fingers

Go ahead, please boycott the new Star Wars movie. I find I enjoy my movies more when there are fewer whiny, bigoted assholes in the theater. Better boycott Star Trek as well. I mean, you wouldn’t want to catch any of those icky “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations” cooties. Boycott Marvel, where they’ve introduced a black Captain America and a black/Latino Spider-Man and an Asian-American Hulk. Boycott Legend of Korra and their non-white, non-straight heroines. Boycott video games for including transgender characters and nonwhite characters and more. As the push for diversity and inclusion continues to grow, you might want to boycott the whole damn field of science fiction and fantasy.

So either grow the hell up and stop fighting a losing battle to build a wall around the genre, or else boycott yourself right out of fandom, and let the rest of us enjoy a community with a few less bigoted assholes.

You can even boycott “ironically,” if that’s what it takes to get you to leave.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


ICON Report

I’m back from toastmastering in ICON 40 in Iowa.

Shut up, spellcheck. Toastmastering is totally a word!

Anyway, it was a fabulous weekend, as always. The concom and the rest of the volunteers did an excellent job. My thanks, as always, to everyone who spent the past year working to make this happen. My only real complaint was that United cancelled my flight back home, meaning I ended up having to spend a half hour on the phone and then leave the con earlier on Sunday than I intended. My apologies for missing my last panel and closing ceremonies.

I took a bunch of pictures, because that’s what I do. Those went up on Facebook yesterday, and Flickr today.

Things started with a group booksigning event at the Cedar Rapids Barnes & Noble. That’s one brave bookstore, willingly taking so many feral authors into their midst, but it went well, and they now have plenty of signed Jim C. Hines books! Plus some books from some other author types, if you’re not into that Hines fellow’s stuff.

The next day, a group of us took a morning field trip to Riverside, Iowa, which is famous for being the future birthplace of one James Tiberius Kirk. As soon as we got there, a guy on the street looked at us and said, “The place you’re looking for is up one block and to the right.”

Marker for James T. Kirk"s future birthplace.

Photo by Dennis Lynch.

There was also a little Star Trek and Riverside History museum, which included a woodcut statue of Captain Kirk, lots of autographed photos, costumes and models, and a collection of Trek tie-in novels. (They opened up that display so Joe Haldeman could autograph his.)

Then it was back to the hotel for Dreamcon (an afternoon workshop with some local high school students), panels, and opening ceremonies. I had notes for how I wanted to introduce each of our guests of honor. For Ann Leckie, I would talk about her work and all of the awards she’d won, and then mention that her latest book, Ancillary Mercy, had just come out. I planned to joke that this one hadn’t earned any honors yet, but hey, the weekend was still young!

Well, before we could even get to opening ceremonies, the news broke that Ann and her book had made the NYT Bestseller list! Geez, Ann. Could you at least let me get through my introduction first? (Also, congratulations again!!!)

Terri LeBlanc and Ann Leckie

Terri LeBlanc (Left) and NYT Bestselling author Ann Leckie (Right), each holding a can of refreshing Fiction Wine.

Opening ceremonies also saw the tribble incident, wherein we dumped a crate full of tribbles onto tribble-master David Gerrold…who then proceeded to tuck one into the waist of my pants. Ann dubbed it the Trouser Tribble. TT came home with me and now enjoys a place of honor on the shelf of trophies and memorabilia. (It also took a brief detour on the TARDIS.)

David Gerrold and Jim Hines

David Gerrold, me, and the infamous Trouser Tribble.

The rest of the weekend is a blur. I got to chat a bit with artist guest Sarah Clemens, though I sadly wasn’t able to make it to her theremin demonstration. I photographed several of costuming guest Kalli McCandless‘ awesome costumes. I caught up with lots of wonderful people, sat in a Delorean, ate too much food, and soon found myself wondering how the heck it could be Sunday afternoon already.

One of the most awesome moments was seeing Pamela Orth Webster show up at my reading, cosplaying as Danielle from The Stepsister Scheme. It was amazing and perfect and made my whole weekend!

Pamela Orth Webster and Jim Hines

Pamela Orth Webster as Danielle (Cinderella), complete with awesome glass sword. (And also me on the right.)

Special shoutout to Terri LeBlanc, who was the liaison from heaven, making sure I had food and getting me wherever I needed to go.

Feel free to check out Flickr for the rest of the pictures. As for me, I’m still in recovery mode, trying to readjust to the real world after a great weekend. All I know is that I’m very much looking forward to ICON 41 next year. As toastmaster, I’ll get to introduce Seanan McGuire. That should be entertaining :-)

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


Cool Stuff Friday

Friday is posting from a totally different time zone. (It’s all wibbly-wobbly and stuff.)

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.



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