Step Out Tonight

 

You might / Think you’re gonna cry / It will be all right /
Step out tonight

When I’m down, it’s always music that picks me up. It could be a song that echoes my own feelings, connecting me across time and space to a musician that might feel the same sort of blues. Sometimes it’s a tune so full of ego, bravado, and life-affirming confidence that it can’t help but shake me out of whatever fog is hovering around my head.

Since 2016 has been a bit of a shit year for everyone, I thought I’d share a song to help you kick off the new year with a blast of positive vibes.

Read into the lyrics however you will, but for me, it’s a foot-stomping reminder to get up, get out, and do something extraordinary with your true friends, the ones there for you through the storms as well as sweet summer days. No matter what’s going on, it will be alright. You just have to step out, call some friends to hang out, have a drink, see a movie, build a rocket, make some music, race go karts, tear around Manhattan on a bicycle, or simply spend some quality time in a backyard hammock.

So when you’re wondering whether or not to do something tonight, the eve of a brand new day (and year), step out. Shake off the dust and debris of 2016 for a fresh adventure with the people who love you. Step out. Do it and don’t look back.

Happy New Year!

What I said I said to her / I’m alive when you walk that way / Can you hear what I can hear? / It’s the sound of a brand new day

The New Generation of Traditional Animators

I forget where I stumbled across Monocle Magazine. I assume it was a half-asleep late night click around one of my news feeds. However I found the site, I’m very thankful that I did. It has been a constant source of thought provoking stories on music, style, architecture, and art. The articles are  and the videos impeccably produced.

It was one recent video that really grabbed my attention.

I’ve always loved the look of hand-drawn animation. Its imperfections and quirks make it feel organic and full of happy accidents that come with being alive and without control over every variable. The video highlights three animators from the Czech Republic, Netherlands, and Southern England who have taken traditional animation to new heights of complexity and craft.

One sets her stories inside cardboard miniatures, another animates by painting on glass, and the last works with life-sized props and murals.

So, have a look at the latest crop of award-winning and brilliant people innovating in animation.

Painterly Cyborgs and Distant Horizons: A Conversation with Julie Dillon in the January 2016 Issue of Clarkesworld

cw_112_700It’s a new year and with it comes the very first 2016 issue of Clarkesworld Magazine! Just look at that gorgeous cover by the brilliantly talented Julie Dillon. It touches on all the hallmarks that really makes her work stand out:

-engaging use of color
-flowing organic shapes
-gazing off at a distant horizon
-circles (seriously, check out the interview below)
-super cool cyborgs

Her work as an inviting warmth and mystery to it that always makes me want to dive into that world, live, and find out what’s going on with each of her subjects. What is this pharaoh-like bot doing? What’re those glowing orbs floating in its palms? Can I wear that hat? Will I become a cyborg if I wear that hat? Why am I so caught up on that hat?

I had the good fortune to interview Julie Dillon for this issue of Clarkesworld. In addition to being talented and driven, she’s simply an awesome human. Neil Clarke also interwove a bunch of her artwork to the article making it an absolute visual, in addition to cerebral, delight for your eyeballs. So if you want to learn more about Julie and the wonderful body of work she’d done for Clarkesworld, make sure you check out the interview!

Thanks Julie and Neil!

This issue features some wonderful stories from:

The Algorithms of Value by ROBERT REED
The Abduction of Europa by E. CATHERINE TOBLER
Extraction Request by RICH LARSON
Everybody Loves Charles by BAO SHU
The True Vintage of Erzuine Thale by ROBERT SILVERBERG
Old Paint by MEGAN LINDHOLM

Also, in the non-fiction section you can find articles like:

Our Future is Artificial by SOFIA SIREN
Painterly Cyborgs and Distant Horizons: A Conversation with Julie Dillon by CHRIS URIE (HOLY CRAP IT ME! *flails arms, passes-out*)
Another Word: Let’s Write a Story Together, MacBook by KEN LIU
Editor’s Desk: The 2015 Reader’s Poll and Contest by NEIL CLARKE

A Tiny Philcon 2015 Recap

philcon_logo

Philcon 2014 was the first Sci-fi/Fantasy convention I ever attended. I was fortunate enough to have interviewed some lovely local and legendary authors who then proceeded to brow beat me into going. It was worth it. It was intimidating, frantic, exciting, and inspiring.

Philcon 2015 was more of the wonderful same except that I was a little more weathered, a little more prepared for the frantic rush between panels, making hard choices between seeing authors discuss ancient computers or story structure, and snagging drinks with friends at the bar.

Since I’ve tumbled into the wonderful realm of short fiction, I organized my day at Philcon around panels on that subject. I spent time listening to incredibly talented writers and editors speaking about their philosophies, processes, and tastes. It was enlightening and entertaining.

But I will say, the highlight of my time at Philcon 2015 was lunch with new and old friends. I got to catch up with some excellent writers I’m honored to call friends and an esteemed editor who has taken a chance on some fool with the last name of Urie and gave me a chance to contribute in my own small way to his legendary magazine.

For now, Philcon has been my only experience with SF/F cons and it’s been wonderful. But, with other con warriors prodding me along, I’m sure, before long, I’ll be heading to Dragoncon, Readercon, World Fantasy Con, and maybe even Helsinki!

Some Quotes and Lessons from Philcon 2015

“Don’t take a dump in the foyer.” – Jon McGoran, on exposition dumps at the beginning of a story.

“Do not send me zombie stories. This is NOT a challenge.” – Neil Clarke, Editor of Clarkesworld on what NOT to submit.

*Fake Weeping* ”Someone just made a sale!” – Ty Drago, Editor of Allegory on reading emotionally charged slush.