The Inevitability of Endings

All good things come to an end. I’ve known that since I was a child, when I asked my art teacher whether she had kept any of her childhood drawings, and she, with aplomb, replied no, they all burned in a house fire. But I’ve become more aware of that recently, as, one by one, places that I enjoy have come to an end. I’ve written about this before, but now it’s struck the place where I’ve written much of this: Caffe Romanza is closing.

As I’ve said before, it’s all too easy to kill the golden goose: a business decision which appears to save money may actually undermine the way you make money. Perhaps Books Inc is struggling, but I and many others like me spend a lot late at night, and when they cut their closing hours from 11pm to 10pm it took away one of the reasons I had for going there. Moving from their glorious two-story corner location to a regular storefront will remove more reasons for more people; and eliminating the cafe will remove more reasons still, leaving it just another bookstore instead of a landmark destination.

I don’t have access to their books and I can’t know all their reasons; maybe they were forced into this move. But I’ve talked to similar business owners about similar moves, and they never say, “we can’t afford the late night staff” but instead say “we aren’t making money on the late night traffic,” which shows that they don’t get the connection that the traffic they get at earlier hours is dependent on the later hours, and those of us that are night owls will be compelled to go everywhere. It’s not the four buck cup of coffee we’re paying for: it’s the pleasant environment to drink it in the company of friends.

Still, I wish Books Inc the best of luck in their new location, and I’ll be sure to drop by. And I hope Jay at Caffe Romanza finds a new option. But I will miss that place where I wrote the bulk of my many novels … but I will soon move on and find a new favorite, as the cycle continues.

-the Centaur

Pictured: Books Inc, an insanely large gift certificate for Caffe Romanza given to me by my colleagues on my tenth work anniversary, and Caffe Romanza, end of shift.

Facebook is not a Waste of Time

Facebook is not a waste of time: it saved my cat.

Not long after my good friend Jim Davies shared a story about his beloved pug’s sudden illness, I came home to find our beautiful cat “Loki the Loquacious” turned lethargic, not interested in food, and yowling at touches to his abdomen. This struck me as seriously unusual, and I was motivated by Jim’s experience to look up Loki’s symptoms.

The recommendation: take him to the vet right away. So we did.

It turned out we were right not to wait: this was a life-threatening urinary blockage which could have killed him through cardiac arrest. According to the emergency room vet, this is a particular issue for male cats near the end of winter, when for some reason they drink less. This leads to increasingly concentrated urine, crystallization of debris in the bladder, and, thanks to the (ahem) tapered nature of the male cat anatomy, can lead to blockages that can kill a cat in under 72 hours.

Fortunately we caught it in time, and they were able to catheterize him, put him on an IV and antibiotics. Loki started out as a feral near-bully cat, but after years of love the vets pronounced him a sweetie.

They thought he would be home after a couple of days, though it was closer to five. But he’s home safe now, and that happened because me and my friends were on Facebook, sharing our stories.

Jim, if you’re reading this, as I said on Facebook: I’m sorry for your loss. But thank you for sharing it. You helped me save my cat’s life.

-the Centaur

JW&TCTM is HERE!

20170221_172832.jpg

At long last, Jeremiah Willstone and the Clockwork Time Machine, my fourth published novel, is OUT in the world! You can get it wherever fine books are sold:

The Clockwork Time Machine tells the story of Jeremiah Willstone, a female adventurer from an alternate world called Victoriana, where, because women’s liberation happened a century early and twice as many brains ended up working on hard problems, science has advanced more in 1908 than it has in our world today – but inadvertently, these scientific advances attracted the attention of aliens called Foreigners, who have come calling to make this world their own!

When Jeremiah’s treacherous uncle steals a dangerous alien weapon and secrets it away on an airship to a possibly hostile shore, Jeremiah leads a strike team to retrieve it – and finds herself chasing him across the seas of time itself, with her uncle just possibly aiming to upend the entire world order she holds dear! With time running out, Jeremiah must sacrifice everything she is to save everyone she loves.

20170221_172448.jpg

Enjoy!

-the Centaur

No, I’m Not Dead

20170223_114426.jpg

It might not be immediately apparent from this shot, but outside, it’s sunny and the weather is nice. That’s despite the mammoth evacuation of San Jose yesterday … which, for the record, was nowhere near me:

Screenshot 2017-02-23 14.25.11.png

I live near Coyote Valley, not Coyote Creek – two totally different areas miles apart – so my home was providentially spared.

I was, however, woken up yesterday morning by a text, a call, and a Messenger message, all wondering whether I was OK. My wife, off to the East Coast on a business trip, called to ask if I’d evacuated yet; I looked out the window to sunny skies, sleeping cats and the early-morning sound of a leaf blower, and said no.

Sorry for concerning you, I know there have been three different disasters / evacuations in San Jose recently! Last night at dinner at Alexander’s, the server, my good friend Todd, reported three different closures of Highway 17 that kept him from work – one that involved a gun battle and five hours trapped in his car, but the rest, weather. 101 in San Jose has suffered similarly. I think these are somehow all related to “atmospheric rivers” which fortunately have dumped all their water before hitting my area. I’d never heard of these before, but apparently the terminology has been around since the 90s.

Thanks for your concern, though! I too am pleased I am not dead! I’ll try to keep it that way!

-the Centaur

Cover Reveal: JEREMIAH WILLSTONE AND THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE!

For those wondering what I’ve been up to for the last six months, the biggest thing is THIS …

Jeremiah Willstone and TCTM.jpg

At long last, JEREMIAH WILLSTONE AND THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE is coming to print! We’ll be picking the actual release date in the next few days, but I can’t think of a better gift for my birthday than seeing the cover of my new novel!

Here’s a sneak peek at the back cover blurb:

From an Epic Award winning author comes a sprawling tale of brass buttons, ray guns, and two-fisted adventure!

In an alternate empire filled with mechanical men, women scientists and fantastic contraptions powered by steam, a high ranking officer in the Victoriana Defense League betrays his country when he steals an airship and awakens an alien weapon that will soon hatch into a walking factory of death.

Commander Jeremiah Willstone and her team must race through time in a desperate bid to stop the traitor’s plan to use the alien weapon to overthrow the world’s social order. With time running out, Jeremiah may have to sacrifice everything she is to save everyone she loves.

“Addictive, sassy, sexy, funny, intense, brilliant.” -Bitten By Books, on Frost Moon

Epic Award winner Anthony Francis writes the Dakota Frost, Skindancer series and Jeremiah Willstone series while working on robots for “the Search Engine Which Starts with a ‘G’.”

Prevail, Victoriana!

-the Centaur

Welcome to the Future

20161230_215137.jpg

Welcome to the future, ladies and gentlemen. Here in the future, the obscure television shows of my childhood rate an entire section in the local bookstore, which combines books, games, music, movies, and even vinyl records with a coffeehouse and restaurant.

20161227_171758.jpg

Here in the future, the heretofore unknown secrets of my discipline, artificial intelligence, are now conveniently compiled in compelling textbooks that you can peruse at your leisure over a cup of coffee.

20161230_195132.jpg

Here in the future, genre television shows play on the monitors of my favorite bar / restaurant, and the servers and I have meaningful conversations about the impact of robotics on the future of labor.

20161230_162633.jpg

And here in the future, Monty Python has taken over the world.

Perhaps that explains 2016.

-the Centaur

Learning while Contributing

20160903_215541.jpg

I’ve been going to conventions for about thirty-five years, but have appeared on panels only in the last ten, and even that only consistently for the last five – so I still feel like a fanboy up with all the more experienced authors. And while sometimes I have a lot to contribute, I often find it’s better not to ask whether I have something to say, but whether I have something to add. It’s frankly awesome to be up here with luminaries like John Ringo or Esther Friesner, and it’s often just best to to sit back and listen – but even then, don’t give up on yourself. I was on three panels today with more experienced people, and I made sure I both shut up and listened and stepped up and said something at the appropriate time – with the result being that several people came up to me and thanked me for my contribution to the panels that I’d been on. Several of the authors got together afterward, and we all seemed to think that it was our interactions with each other that made the panels great. So … think of what you can add, but never give up on your own unique contribution. It’s there, you just have to find it.

20160903_215517.jpg

Pictured: the forward and reverse angle on viewer for a panel on “101 ways to kill a character” which I was on with John Ringo, who chose just the moment I took my selfie to lean over and ask someone a question.

-the Centaur

Con Crud!

So, I had all sorts of plans to post on my upcoming panels and the ambience of Dragon Con, but I overslept. Not by, like, an hour, or two hours, but more like eight hours. Sure, I got up and killed my alarms, a few times, but what really happened as I kept trying to get up and kept crashing out was that I realized I had caught a case of con crud.

Science fiction conventions gather an enormous amount of people, and hence, their diseases, and hence: con crud, that mysterious illness that hits you a day or two after you get to a con. I know a lot of people who have been knocked out by it, but it’s hit me hard only two or three times.

This time, I ended up sleeping on and off for twelve hours out of sixteen. Fortunately I didn’t get the cough or sniffles, though I felt them starting. But I rested up, and got up when I felt rested, and even though I missed hitting the dealer’s room today, I had a lot of fun at my two panels.

So what I’m saying is, be good to yourself. It’s easy, when you’re at a con on a mission, to get caught up on all the things you could do. Well, do the things you should do, take care of yourself, and relax: cons will roll around again, and you want to be healthy enough to survive them.

Up tomorrow, 10AM: You’ve sold your first book, now what? A bunch of people much more experienced than me tell you what to do when you’re facing book two. Oh, and I’ll be there. At 2:30PM, I’ll be talking about synopses that will sell – or not sell – your book. And at 10PM, I’ll be talking about fun ways to kill your character. Oh, hell, here’s the whole list:

  • You’ve Sold the First Book, Now What?
    Saturday 10am, Embassy CD – Hyatt
    What happens next? Publishing professionals offer information about the industry–what they’re going to do, and what you need to do for yourself.
  • Writing a Synopsis That Will Sell Your Book – MODERATOR
    Saturday 2:30pm, Embassy CD – Hyatt
    Writing a great synopsis may be harder than writing a book. These outliners and pantsers will offer suggestions to make the process easier.
  • 101 Fascinating Ways to Kill off a Character
    Saturday 10pm, Embassy CD – Hyatt
    Description: Our favorite writers recount some of the more interesting ways they’ve eliminated characters–or tried to.

Also, THIRTY DAYS LATER is still on sale for $0.99! Onward!

-the Centaur

Dragon Con! 2016! I’ll be there!

20150903_064152.jpg

So, Labor Day is rolling around again, and once again, I’ll be at Dragon Con! I’m actually on a boatload of panels this year, but the most important one is my book reading, Sunday at 1PM at the Hyatt! Come on by and help me make this room:

20150905_173046.jpg

look like this room:

20150905_143430.jpg

I’ll be reading from THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE, from the Dakota Frost series including both the published trilogy and the forthcoming books, and also I’ll likely read some of my flash fiction pieces! Come and enjoy!

If panels are more of your bag, however, I’ve got plenty for you:

  • Friday

    • Avoiding Historical Mistakes
      Friday, 7pm, 204 J Mart 2
      Our panelists will not debate whether science fiction/fantasy, even steampunk fiction, NEEDS to be as historically accurate as possible within the limits of its alternative universe. Our interest in this discussion will be in writing historically convincing fiction and sharing resources.
  • Saturday

    • You’ve Sold the First Book, Now What?
      Saturday 10am, Embassy CD – Hyatt
      What happens next? Publishing professionals offer information about the industry–what they’re going to do, and what you need to do for yourself.
    • Writing a Synopsis That Will Sell Your Book – MODERATOR
      Saturday 2:30pm, Embassy CD – Hyatt
      Writing a great synopsis may be harder than writing a book. These outliners and pantsers will offer suggestions to make the process easier.
    • 101 Fascinating Ways to Kill off a Character
      Saturday 10pm, Embassy CD – Hyatt
      Description: Our favorite writers recount some of the more interesting ways they’ve eliminated characters–or tried to.
  • Sunday

    • Reading: Anthony Francis
      Sunday 1pm, Edgewood – Hyatt
      Anthony Francis reads from the Skindancer series, from THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE, from his flash fiction work, and answers your questions!
    • Steampunk/Alternate History Is Here to Stay
      Sunday 8:30pm, Embassy CD – Hyatt
      Is the Steampunk market soft? Writers discuss keeping the genre alive and kicking. How to infuse your Steampunk/Alt History novels and stories with new life.
  • Monday

    • The Good, the Bad, and the Scary: Witches in UF
      Monday 11:30am, Chastain DE – Westin
      Witches in Urban Fantasy run the gamut from helpful to extremely dangerous and self-serving. Our authors discuss their characters as reflections of the category they fall into.
    • Secret History: Bet You Didn’t Know It Happened That Way!
      Monday 1pm, 204 J – Mart2
      Our alternate history authors and experts describe that variety of tales where the public and world at large have no idea what really happened behind the scenes. Many authors have written in the subgenre. Classic short stories and novels will be discussed.

Oh! Hey! I’m moderating one of them panels. Good to know! (Seriously, a year or two back I found out I was moderating a panel when I sat down, and I’d only found out about the panel ten minutes before). Regardless, come on down to Dragon Con and have fun!

-Anthony

This pays for that

20160821_132449.jpg

I’m not dead, I’m just playing a game of this pays for that. The above is this – reinforcement learning for robotics. The below is that – writing. I want to be doing more writing, but I need to keep working to pay for the writing. That is all for now …

20160821_132506(1).jpg

-the Centaur