Shameless Self-Promotion

So Long, 2016

It's that time of year, friends. As this neverending year winds down and the nights become long and cold, I like to turn inward to take stock of where I've been and where I'm going.

This is not an awards eligibility post; more a summary of all the things I've done this year, so I can remind myself that it was more than Witcher 3 and K-drama. Technically this is my second year of eligibility for the Campbell Award. But I firmly believe that ship has sailed for me, and I urge you to look elsewhere. I'll have more to say on that when awards season begins in earnest.

New Stuff

So here's what I did in the Year of the Trashfire, 2016. First: releases! I didn't write all of this this year, but this is the year in which these things were launched into the world.

Novelettes

These are all novelette-length, but they're each episodes of longer serials published by Serial Box, which I co-author with two incredible teams of other writers.

Bookburners Season 2 

Webs

Shock and Awe

ReMade Season 1

Hungry

Whiteout

Memories of Arcadia

Season passes and individual Serial Box episodes are also available in audio and ebook format on their website and in the iOS app.

Games

This Lucy Smokeheart tie-in is a choose-your-own-adventure style romp published and distributed by Choice of Games.

The Daring Mermaid Expedition (Google Play, iOS, Kindle, Steam)

Middle Grades

The long-awaited interactive book for ages 8-12 where the reader is a part of the story, saving a magical circus from doom.

Circus of Mirrors

Nonfiction

This year saw the start of my Metagames column at Strange Horizons, and stellar human Chuck Wendig kindly gave me his keys to talk about some things, too.

Metagames

Fitness Games

Video Games are the Best Art

Playing at Good and Evil

Discord in the Symphony

Pokémon Go and Staying Power

Conflict and Consensus

Terrible Minds

Throw Everything at the Wall

The High Goddamn Responsibility of Fiction

Podcasts and Speaking

Hosting

The Cultures (co-hosted 52 weekly episodes, on LibSyn and iTunes)

Guest Appearances

StoryForward Podcast: Ethics and Immersion

StoryForward Panel: Storytelling for Social Good (video)

PurseStrings Radio

I was also on programming at Confusion, Readercon, and Worldcon in Kansas City. I met Tim Powers, co-paneled with David Brin, and established myself as a person with many, many, MANY opinions about self-driving cars.

Marketing

I'm very proud of the work I did for a little activation for Handmaid's Tale at NYCC, and another thing that is... still pending.

Personal Stuff

This year has been a trashfire for national political reasons, and I lost easily weeks of my life to paralysis as I watched it burn. But my personal life has also been, ah, somewhat complex.

The year began and is now ending with drawn-out child health concerns—the kind that end up requiring multiple rounds of scans and IVs and ER visits. It turns out that dealing with a potentially serious health issue your child is having is even more stressful than having such a problem yourself. Who knew?

I had a young adult novel go on sub, and when it didn't get picked up, we decided to sit on the manuscript for now. Sad, but them's the breaks. It's a persistence game. Worse, though: the long-term project I'd been working on ran out of funding and shut down without shipping anything, which has been disappointing on many levels. In the aftermath, I went after a job I was really excited about and landed it but ultimately declined, with regrets, because it wouldn't have paid enough to live on.

It wasn't all bad. My older child entered high school. We went on a cruise to the Bahamas and it was utterly glorious! We did some massive improvements to our house, refinanced our mortgage, and wound up much better off for it. I spent some time with some amazing people in person and in private chat.

I also wrote some short fiction. And I wrote a little bit of two different novels, but didn't finish any. I've been feeling really terrible that I didn't manage to write a novel of my own this year. That's my baseline goal in every year: write a book. But looking over this post in draft, everything I've done and everything that's happened to me, I'm starting to remember why that didn't happen. It really hasn't been all Witcher 3 and K-drama, has it?

What's in 2017?

I like to end these things on a positive note. And positive always means: the future! So what do I have cooking for 2017? First off, there are new seasons of Bookburners and ReMade to look forward to. I'm also writing a little more short fiction and I'm confident some of it will be published next year, even if it means sending it up my own self. 

I've done a little games writing that you'll get to see in 2017, too. I have a nonfiction proposal out; I'm thinking about Kickstarting a new season of Lucy Smokeheart. Oh, and maybe I'll write a novel for real this time. Or the other novel. Or both novels!

And I'm volunteering for the NYCLU. Because, while this isn't a political post, politics have indelibly shaped this year. And if I want future years to look even better, I'm going to have to work for it. Same as it ever was, right?


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Circus of Mirrors is Here!

It's been a long journey, but I am absolutely delighted to say that Circus of Mirrors, the interactive children's book I've created with Stitch Media, is now available for sale. I couldn't be happier about it!

Circus of Mirrors is basically a parent-run alternate reality game for kids. That means the story isn't just something the child reads; they get to be a part of it! Each adventure kit includes eight separately bound chapters, and in between each chapter the child is given an activity that puts them at the center of the story. Mazes, riddles, crafts, letters and phone calls all play a part. Oh, and the illustrations? Why yes, that is Mike Holmes of Adventure Time fame!

I'm going to have more to say about Circus in the coming weeks—I especially want to tell you how incredible it was to see my own daughter go through this experience. In my shoes, it's easy to forget how magical it is when the story world first reaches out and touches you. But it really, truly is... magic.

Oh, and I'm still incredibly proud of the Bearded Man. I giggle like a fool thinking about him, even now!

You'll be hearing a lot more about Circus of Mirrors in the weeks to come. But for now I thought I'd send up a flare and let you know this is a real thing that you can buy right now with your own money! And the holidays are coming up real fast. If you know what I mean.

And what I mean is, buy Circus of Mirrors for the chapter book readers in your life for the winter holiday of your choice. I pinky swear you won't regret it!


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End of an Era

No, no, not Deus Ex Machinatio; just another milestone in the career of a freelancer. Not a happy one, but without the valleys, the peaks would not be such a victory, would they?

For the last two years and more, I've been working on a long-term project with a private client dedicated to making an immersive narrative-driven Airsoft environment. Think of it as live-action steampunk Call of Duty, and you'd be in the right general ballpark. Alas, this project has run out of funding without ever getting its legs under it.

It's been a wild two years. In that time I created models for a game economy, trying to calculate how much physical currency to create and in what denominations. I fine-tuned rules for basic Airsoft play governing how to handle injuries, hospitals, vehicles, and more. I designed play scenarios that could adapt to fluctuating numbers of players and multiple factions, and with a variety of goals to keep play fresh. I created history and storylines for the world this took place in; actually I did that a few times, as our vision gradually shifted. I storyboarded and scripted and wrote fictional news articles; I even collaborated on the design of some room escape games conceived as part of a side business.

It was a really interesting project, and I'm sad that some of those ideas will never get their tires kicked hard enough to know how solidly I built them. It's not the first time I've done work that will never see an audience, and I'm sure not the last time, either. That's business, I suppose.

But alas, having your most reliable long-term client run out of funding puts quite a hole in your budget, it turns out. So this is me putting up the Bat-signal: I'm looking for new projects, and I'd appreciate it if you'd pass on my name should you hear of anything I could help to make better. I'm a big believer that 90% of being lucky is keeping your mind open, so I'm willing to consider all kinds of possibilities. Let me know?


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ReMade Season 1

I'm a little late to the announcement here, but I promise you this one's worth the wait. A while back I talked about one of the serials I was working on, Bookburners. I joined that one in the second season as a pitch hitter, so while I love it madly, I wasn't nervous about sending it into the wild. The concept had already had its road test and we knew it could go fast.

But I was at the very first ReMade story summit, and had a part in shaping it from the very skeleton. It's a very different emotional dynamic. And it's a very different story.

Every minute, 108 people die. This fall, in one of those minutes, twenty-three of those deaths will be teenagers. Now they are humanity’s last hope for survival. Awakened in a post-apocalyptic world and hunted by mechanical horrors, these teens search for answers amidst the ruins of civilization. Fate, love, and loyalty face off in this adrenaline-pumping YA adventure.

Written By: Matthew Cody, Kiersten White, E.C. Myers, Andrea Phillips, Carrie Harris, and Gwenda Bond

I've done some of the best writing of my life for this serial, hands down, and these characters are so richly textured and diverse that I could just die from pride. I love every one of them. This season I'm primarily writing a character named May, an overachiever with a plan for every occasion and a serious food allergy, and representing food allergies is pretty important to me. But the rest of the cast are every bit is fascinating, and I can't wait for you to get to know them all.

Listen, this is going to be a wild ride, and you're not going to want to miss a second of it. Pinky promise. And I'm not the only one who thinks so. 

If you're not sold yet, you can read the first episode to get a taste—but trust me when I say it gets better and better every second until the end. As of this week, we're three episodes in and absolutely off to the races. There's a new episode every Wednesday from now until December 21. Go on, subscribe to the season now. I promise you'll love it.


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MidAmeriCon2: Worldcon 2016

AWWWW YEAH I'M GOING BACK TO WORLDCON!

I have once again fooled the Worldcon programming folks into thinking I am a person of wit and notability, and as a result I have a freakin' amazing bunch of programming this year! And not just panelling, either. I have a kaffeeklatsch (which you'll need to sign up for in advance if you want to attend), a reading, and an autographing session. Wowzers!

Incidentally, autograph sessions can be lonely and demoralizing when you're a new author like myself and don't exactly have lines going out the door. (Or, uh lines at all...) So if you're free late Sunday morning, I'd be delighted to have you stop by to say hello and chat for a while. You don't even need to have or buy anything for me to sign! I am more than happy to sign nothing at all. Or if you really, really want me to sign something for you, I'll have a few postcards to give away, free of charge.

Please note that there are sometimes last-minute changes to programming, so double-check to be sure nothing's moved in space and time. But for now, this is my schedule:

Driverless Cars

Wednesday 16:00 - 17:00, 2206 (Kansas City Convention Center)
Self-driving cars are being tested on our roads, but it's not clear the public would buy one if available. Who do we trust with the design and production? The challenges -- potential hacks, electrical storms, malfunction or apocalypse -- and opportunities -- to empower people with disabilities, for example -- are discussed.
Andrea Phillips, Howard Davidson, Dr. Jordin Kare

Writing Games in Fiction

Thursday 14:00 - 15:00, 2204 (Kansas City Convention Center)
From Azad to Armada, fictional games, gaming and gamers are an increasingly visible part of our SF landscape, offering us complex characters and interesting discussions of how gaming is becoming an integral part of our lives. Our panel discuss how these representations present gaming to a wider audience.
Becky Chambers, Andrea Phillips, James Cambias (M), Peter Tieryas, Tim Akers

The Future is a Different Country

Friday 12:00 - 13:00, 2208 (Kansas City Convention Center)
How will stuff (culture/tech/etc.) change in the next 40 years? Can we really predict with any sense of accuracy or will there be a singularity of some sort that makes all predictions worthless? Our panel predicts anyway, and wonders what their writing and creative practice will look like as a result.
Andrea Phillips, Edward M. Lerner, Kathleen Ann Goonan (M), Patrick Nielsen Hayden

Kaffeeklatsch

Friday 13:00 - 14:00, 2211 (KKs) (Kansas City Convention Center)
James Cambias, Toni L. P. Kelner, Andrea Phillips

My Transmedia Life

Friday 15:00 - 16:00, 2208 (Kansas City Convention Center)
Authoring is not a stale business. Today's writers are finding new ways to reach audiences, making interactive websites, podcasts, trailers and games to represent or enhance their worlds and characters. Panellists discuss ways that they build transmedia works and take their literature into the realm of games, video and visual arts.
Christopher Kastensmidt, Andrea Phillips, Katie Li

Futurism vs. SF

Friday 18:00 - 19:00, 2209 (Kansas City Convention Center)
Science Fiction explores the future.  Futurism explores the future and tries to relate it to the real world.  What causes someone to be a Futurist rather than a science fiction author?  Where are the overlaps and the differences between the two practices?
S.B. Divya (M), Karl Schroeder, Andrea Phillips, David Brin

Societal Aspects of Technology

Saturday 13:00 - 14:00, 2208 (Kansas City Convention Center)
If your cellphone died would you be late for work? When your power goes out, would you dispair for entertainment? In a world where people are digitally dependent, what will happen when energy fails us? Downton Abbey dramatized the advent of home electricity, the telephone and the radio. How did those advances change social lives? Instead of bringing us together, have phones increase our isolation? We discuss how technology changes the way people communicate and relate in society. 
Mike Shepherd Moscoe, Andrea Phillips, Edward M. Lerner (M), Karl Schroeder, David Brin

Magazine Group Reading: Escape Artists, Inc.

Saturday 14:00 - 15:00, 2502A (Kansas City Convention Center)
Our Magazine Group Reading Series continues with a special group reading that features authors from the family of Escape Artists magazines.
Alasdair Stuart (M), Marguerite Kenner (M), Dr. Amy H. Sturgis, Andrea Phillips, Bud Sparhawk, Scott Edelman

Autograph Session

Sunday 11:00 - 12:00 (Autographing Space) (Kansas City Convention Center)
Kate Elliott, Melissa F. Olson, Robert Reed, Robert J, Sawyer, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, Andrea Phillips

Reading

Sunday 14:30 - 15:00, 2202 (Readings) (Kansas City Convention Center)

Annnnnd that's it. Worldcon, get ready, this is going to be great! Just one more thing to work out: what the heck am I going to wear...?


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