Emotional uppercuts

Back this week from Spokane, Wa., land of a thousand fires, land of the raining ash, where I was attending the World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon).

I'm not kidding about the fires; if you haven't been paying attention, basically the entire Pacific Northwest has been drowning in runaway flames. Spokane looked very apocalyptic, appropriately enough for the nature of the convention:

The view from the SFWA's VIP suite, on the 17th floor of the Davenport Grand Hotel, was no more reassuring:

On the day that photo was taken, Vancouver writer Erik Wecks pointed out that ash was raining down from above. Smoke filled the hallways of the hotels and the convention center; some people walked around with reddened eyes, some wore white air masks. 

I spent time with author friends I don't often get to hang out with, like Jason Hough and Ted Kosmatka, each of whom signed their new novels for me (Zero World and The Flicker Men, respectively). 

A childhood friend messaged me out of the blue on Thursday evening. He'd attended John Scalzi's reading in Boise the night before, and had a strange request: Would I track down Scalzi at Worldcon and take a particular photo with him? He told me Scalzi would know what the photo should be, that it was supposed to recreate the photo he had taken with my friend the evening before. I anticipated the worst...

...but it really turned out to be just this simple pose. Scalzi art-directed the shoot, and my friend Annie Bellet took the photo, in which I'm certain someone cast a spell upon me to cause me to look like a giant beside Scalzi. The awkward expression is all me, though. (That's author Marina J. Lostetter photobombing us.)

Each morning I was up early for breakfast and some reading time, including one day that I ate in a train car called Frank's Diner...

...followed by some writing time before heading to the convention for panels and other such things. During the week in Spokane, my novel-in-progress Limbs crossed the 70,000-word mark. (And I've only written through half my outline, unfortunately. Either this is going to be a big book, or I'll have many cuts ahead.)

Each afternoon, once I was finished with the day's panels, I'd FaceTime with Felicia and Squish:

I went to several panels, among them this one on book cover design, where Annie talked about the very successful design and branding of her Twenty-Sided Sorceress series:

The lovely folks at Crown shipped a couple dozen advance copies of Eleanor to the convention, where I'm told they were rather quickly snatched up by people lining up to register on day one. (The books were gone before I even arrived at the convention, which was pretty cool!)

But then Vancouver author Jeremiah Reinmiller spotted one of them abandoned on a breakfast table. (This is his photo, hijacked by me to illustrate said book-spotting.)

The highlight of the convention for me was a panel on writing diverse characters, in which Kameron Hurley and Walidah Imaresha dispensed some fantastic guidance on how privileged authors (e.g. me) can write characters of various backgrounds, races, genders, abilities and other such variances in non-appropriative (non-appropriational?) ways. 

But a week away is enough, and now I'm back. I'm continuing to work on Limbs, and some early blurbs are rolling in for Eleanor, in particular these lovely, generous words:

Eleanor is deep—a really poignant, moving story that will surprise you with how smart it is. The novel turns a traditional tragic narrative on its head with compelling elements of science fiction and fantasy. It’s a touching story that sneaks up on you, working on multiple levels that pay off in a series of emotional uppercuts in the final pages. Read it and weep."

That one is from Robopocalypse scribe and New York Times bestselling author Daniel H. Wilson. Thanks, Daniel!

“Jason Gurley’s Eleanor is an ambitious book of many wonders, an intricately crafted saga spanning three generations, by turns otherworldly and heartbreakingly true."

And that one's from Some Other Town author Elizabeth Collison. Thank you, Beth!

Things roll on with both books, and we're now only about five months away from Eleanor's U.S. release date! I'm having a very hard time not doing a jig with each passing day. (That's, what, roughly one hundred fifty jigs to look forward to?)

Anyway. I'm back! Hello!