Why I’ve given up on Star Wars – No, not for that!

I just saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi this past weekend for the first time.  6 months after it premiered.  That’s out of character for me.  I had no real desire to see it when it came out, and only bothered to do it now because I felt guilty for not doing it yet.  And you know what?  I’m fine if it’s the last Star Wars movie I see.  I’m out.  Stick around for what is probably the lukewarmest of hot takes on Star Wars.

Now, there’s been a lot of butthurt MRA types bitching about the Last Jedi recently, and presumably also The Force Awakens (I can’t be bothered to look it up), about how all of the diversity in the cast of the latest movies has ruin Star Wars.  They can rot for all I care.  Daisy Ridley’s and John Boyega’s acting were the only redeeming features of TFA, and they were perfectly fine in TLJ.  And I had no complaints about Kelly Marie Tran’s performance or inclusion in the film.  The original trilogy was very white, needlessly so, and regardless of the sociopolitical atmosphere of 1970s Hollywood, it’s asinine to expect or even want Star Wars to remain that way today.

That’s not why I gave up Star Wars.  Let’s get that out front and center.  No, this is about something else.

I’m currently 42 years old.  I’m that magic age – too young to be a Gen Xer, too old to be a millennial.  I’ve been categorized as part of the Oregon Trail generation, but I have always thought of myself as part of the Star Wars generation.

Born in ’76, Star Wars (A New Hope, as it’s known now) came out a few weeks shy of my 1st birthday.  The Empire Strikes Back is the first movie I remember seeing in a movie theater.  And Return of the Jedi is the first movie that I dearly loved.  As the scion of a comfortably middle class suburban white family, I was privileged enough to have a LOT of Star Wars merchandise.  An X-Wing.  A Y-Wing.  An AT-AT, the Ewok Village.  And somewhere on the order of 30 action figures with a Darth Vader helmet carrying case for them.  I lived the original trilogy.

In college, my friends and I spent most Friday night throwing our beat-up VHS copies of the trilogy on the background for whatever activities we were doing – be it Risk or Axis and Allies, or….  well, that’s really all we did on Friday nights.  In fact, when my college friends couldn’t make it to the bachelor party my childhood friends were throwing, they threw me their own – consisting of Risk and the original trilogy in the background.

My point here is that these movies are a huge part of the formative experience of my life.  And I am walking away from them.  (This prelude to my post is now longer than I wanted the whole thing to run, so I’ll try to be brief. <b>ETA:</b> I failed.)

It finally crystalized for me about 10 minutes into that first pointless battle scene of TLJ – I found the metaphor that perfectly encapsulated my apathy for the newest trilogy, and it’s retrograde effect on the rest of the films.

The original trilogy, for me, was magic.  When I watched it, I was more than just entertained or engaged.  I was transported.  And after the final swipe and closing credits, I would float in elation for several minutes afterward.  The movies’ hold over my mind and psyche was benevolent, but complete.

It was, to me, indistinguishable from David Copperfield making the Statue of Liberty disappear, or walking through the Great Wall of China.  Or of the Amazing Jonathan snorting a massive mayo jar of white powder through a straw in 2 seconds flat.

It was, literally, magic.

But then came the 90s and 2000s, when Lucas released the Special Editions and the prequel trilogy.  I saw them all in eager, though respectively lessening, anticipation.  And this is where the metaphor comes in.

I went from seeing a top-of-his-game world-class Vegas magician wowing audiences with astonishing novel takes on old tricks, to hanging out with a high school magic club, with awkward teenagers trying to learn card tricks, and failing.  There was no magic.  I saw the sausage being made, and badly at that.  And all sense of wonder, of escape, of Awe, was gone.  Upon seeing the misdirects and palming inexpertly done, I looked upon the original movies and saw the flaws, the cracks, and the seams.  The magic was gone.

And then came The Force Awakens.  And as I sat in the theater watching the Millennium Falcon run from Star Destroyers and an overmatched rebellion facing off against Nazi stand-ins played by British actors, I wasn’t watching Star Wars.  No, it was a street magician of middling skill.  Better than the high school club, sure.  In the same way that white bread and mayo is better than food poisoning.  But it was a magician trying to do David Copperfield’s best tricks, without changing the set dressings, or the comedy banter, or the costumes, and not doing them as well.  It was imitiation.  And I could see through it all.

And when you’ve already seen the best magician in the world doing the best magic tricks of his career, there’s really not much burning passion to see the same things done the same way over again, and inexpertly at that.  I came out of TFA enraged and TLJ unengaged. Rogue One was good, as much as it was an engaging film and a fun ride.  But it was still the same magic tricks, just done more smoothly than in TFA and TLJ.

And it’s made the original trilogy lose it’s hold over me.

So yeah, I’m kinda full on magic at this point.  You guys can keep going.  By all means, be entertained and enjoy yourselves. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade.

But I’m good.  I’m out.

Here I go,


(this post is almost exclusively written as a pre-emptive explanation to a college buddy who is seriously waiting for my opinions on The Last Jedi.  Sorry Matt…)

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2017 Year in Review

This has been a crazy year for me, not that you would have known it by reading the blog. I’ve only posted here 9 times this year. I’m not promising that’ll improve in 2018, but I hope so. In this post, I’d like to look at my year, and talk through it. There’s a tl;dr summary at the end.

My first impulse on looking back on the year from an author’s perspective is that this year failed to meet my expectations. But upon reflection, that’s only because I set goals in February I thought were realistic, but weren’t. Let’s look at what I’ve managed to get done, what I want to get done next year, and then I’ll talk about this year.

  • For the year, I’ve written close to 70,000 words. For an author making their living from their words, that’s abject failure. Even for someone publishing steadily but with a day job, that’s not enough output to be sustainable. But it’s almost a two-fold increase over what I wrote in 2016, which itself was double 2015. (Prolific, I am not).  I am mightily heartened by the upward trend in word-count. My goal for 2018 is to break 100,000 words.
  • I completed 1 new short story and 1 new flash piece, and I rewrote 1 flash piece from the ground up. Compared to 2016, where I had eight new stories and one new flash, this is a terrible drop in performance. Of course, 2016 is when I attended Odyssey, and those stories were almost all done there, or as application requirements. My 2016 output was anomalously high. I’m not going to get too down on myself for these 2017 numbers, even though they are far below what I had hoped. I am just going to set a reasonable goal for next year. Given my other goals, I am hoping for at least 2 new short stories, completing a rewrite on one I’ve been dithering with for a year and a half, and 3 new flash pieces I started seeds of this year. I want to say that those are conservative goals, but KNOW THYSELF – for me they are aspirational.
  • If you’re doing the math as you read along, you’ll wonder how 1 short and 1.5 flash combine to be 70k words. And you’d be right to scratch your head. The rest of my output for 2017 has been the first draft of my novel. I’m just shy of 60,000 words in. I know, for some people, that’s just November. But for me, it’s more than I’ve written any single year so far. My 2018 goal is to finish the first draft. Ideally, I want the final version to be between 90-110k words. Given how wordy my first drafts are, I’ll likely hit 140-150k for the first draft, before I hack and whittle away at it all. This is going to be my white whale for 2018.
  • I submitted two stories a total of three times. This is what separates the hobbyists from actual working authors. Submissions. 3 submissions in a year is hobbyist level. I need to increase this drastically. However, you have to have ready stories in order to submit. I have first drafts of amost a dozen shorts, but none of those are in any condition to publish.  A few of those stories I really adore, and I want to share them with the world.  I don’t want to coddle and massage them forever. But I know they are not ready to fly. This isn’t me being down on my writing. This is me looking at the drafts I have had critiqued, seeing the issues I have with them and the issues others have with them, and recognizing that the stories need varying levels of editing before an editor will be likely to purchase them. I haven’t done the work they require, and that is keeping me from selling them. My 2018 goal here is to do the work on at least 1 of those stories specifically, and make at least 10 submissions overall.
  • I saw my first (and to date, only) professional publication. True, Super Action Excite Team Go! sold in 2016, but it was unleashed upon the world in 2017. I make no publication goals for 2018. Publication and sales depend on external forces, such as editors buying what I wrote. I can’t control that.
  • I participated in my first con as a panelist. LunaCon, in Tarrytown NY. I did 9 panels. It was scary and intimidating, and I had MAJOR imposter syndrome. But I got to sit next to Ben Bova on one panel, and chat with him in a small group on another. That man is a god damned treasure, and he flipped my switch from nervous to at ease with a few well-timed, kind words during my first panel, and the rest of the weekend was easy and relaxed as a result. I also performed my 2nd live reading while at LunaCon, and that was wonderful too. (Many thanks to BSFW for making that happen!)
  • The blog has been sparse and empty. I’ve tried blogging personally before – livejournal and all that – and I’ve never managed to maintain a steady rate of posting. This is a different animal. As a professional mouthpiece, I don’t want this blog to be silent, and yet I also don’t want to flood people’s inboxes and feeds with pointless drivel. I’ve been using it almost exclusively for professional updates. But when there’s no professional news to impart, that leaves silence. As a result, I am planning to start a monthly series. I alluded to this in a previous post without details. Details are still forthcoming as I decide on the format. I am dithering between 2 options – a analytic look at the biology in sci-fi and fantasy movies and TV, like REEL PHYSICS but for biology, or a monthly peek at the biggest news and breakthroughs in biology and medicine and how those relate to concepts in fiction, past present and future.   There’s nothing saying I can’t do both, but experience tells me I’ll wind up doing neither. But I think there’s an audience for both, and I’d like to speak to them.

So what happened in terms of productivity? I know my output isn’t up to snuff for a professional, but it’s leaps and bounds above my normal output. Why am I down on myself? First, it’s a question of expectations. In February, I set myself what should be a reasonable goal: Write 400 words a day, every day, on my novel. If I kept pace with that goal, then by Christmas last week I would have had over 130,000 words on the novel – very possibly a completed first draft.

Of those ~330 days I expected myself to write, I actually wrote on only 72 of them. 25 of those days, I didn’t even make my 400 words.   That’s 2 1/2 months out of 11. And that’s why my first draft is sitting at around 57,000, instead of 130. That’s why I’m disappointed with my progress. I’ve kept a daily log of writing progress (because if there’s 2 things I love, it’s spreadsheets and to punish myself). As you can see below, there’s the nice diagonal line that indicates how many word I’d have if I stuck to my plan, and the scraggly intermittent staircase of how many words I got around to:


The next question is, why? 400 words a day is an easy goal. Why did I miss it? Short answer: life.

Longer answer: About 1 week after I made that goal, the wife and I finally pulled the trigger on our long-gestating decision to change school districts for the kidlets. And we realized a) how quickly we would need to get our house on the market, and b) how much work we needed to do to get it in salable condition. The next 2 months were a nonstop 80’s fix-it montage of repairs, renovations, repainting, and removing shit. Then, we took a good hard look at our finances and housing prices in the new school district, and realized that my stay-at-home dad/author lifestyle was fine in the house we were in, but wouldn’t cut the mustard in the new district. So I had to get a day job.

When I left science, part and parcel of that decision was a conversation between Di and I about how long we would let me try before pulling the plug. We decided on a three-year time limit. If I didn’t show any real promise of a future as a successful author, I would need to rejoin the workforce of the gainfully employed. (Not that that would mean the end of my writing, just that I would need to have a steady job as well.) Well, between 2 sales, attending Odyssey, the contacts I made, and the personal rejection letters I was getting from publishers, things were looking good on the “making legitimate progress” front. But finances are finances, and in the end our desire for the best possible education for the kidlets was more important to us than my ability to stay in pajamas all day and write from my basement office. It was a no-brainer.

So, looking back at that chart, the initial flat line of progress corresponds to the period of emptying and renovating the old house, finding and buying the new house, moving and unpacking. Also of getting situated in the new day job. Then, the first real incline of progress is the summer months, when I’d gotten into a groove both at work and at home. There’s another flat area around late August through mid-September, where we went of a family vacation for eclipse viewing and had a few bumps in the road getting kidlets adjusted to new schools, new people, and the vagaries of middle school. Then through the Fall I had a nice little time of writing, until the Holidays once again derailed me, and some family illnesses (all minor, if time consuming). When I put it in that context, then I am much more sanguine about where I stand.

But I still plan to do better.

tl;dr version

2017 Accomplishments:

  • ~70k words: 1 short story, 1 new flash, 1 fixed flash, 1 partial novel
  • First pro-publication
  • First time as a con-panelist
  • Infrequent blogger
  • 3 submissions

2018 Aspirations:

  • 100k words
  • 2 new shorts
  • 3 new flash
  • 10 submissions
  • At least one completed stalled revision
  • Complete novel first draft
  • Start a regular blog series

That’s a lot to do.  I’d best get started.

Here I Go…

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Bookcases, A Love Story

My entire adult life, I’ve hoarded books. When Di and I were looking to buy our first starter house way back in our 20s, one house that we toured felt wrong, and off. There was something bizarre and strange about it, and we couldn’t figure out what the problem was. It wasn’t until a day or so later that we realized – there wasn’t a single book in the entire house when we toured it. Without books, a house is not a home.

In the past week, I’ve come to realize my love of hoarding books may have something to do with my grandmother. When I was a child, I remember her reading incessantly. At least 1 new book every week. There was a room in her house devoted to her books, which covered 2 entire walls in what I assume were custom built floor-to-ceiling shelves. I wish I had photos of that room. I remember it being a mystical place. No matter how tumultuous the rest of the house was with stampeding people, when you entered that room, all was still and reverent.

I don’t read nearly to the extent that she did, though I try. But I do keep as many of the books I read as I can. We have a set of 3 large IKEA Billy bookshelves that have now followed us through 1 apartment and 3 houses, and we’ve added more along the way.

One of the things I’ve been up to over the past 6 months is trying to find the best way to deal with my sci-fi collection inheritance. I may have mentioned here in the past, but a little over a year ago, a friend of my father’s passed away, and his large collection of hardcovers and paperbacks very generously came to me. The first shipment to arrive (overflowing several rubbermaid tubs and piled so high in the back seat of Dad’s rental car he could barely use his mirrors), included over 300 hardcovers and at least 2 bins of paperbacks. 2 more shipments have followed, though neither as big as the first, and Dad says there’s another 400-500 books still to come. Even for me, this is an insane quantity of books. I am rubbing my hands in mad glee at the thought!

An Obscene Pile o' Books

Oh how foolish I was to sort them first!

But how to store them!

In the new house, there is a finished loft above the garage with a long wall. Ideal for bookshelves, no? No. The wall is only vertical for 60 inches, and then slopes inward! Alas, our tall IKEA bookshelves are 72″ high, and most shorter ones reach only 36″ or 48″ – far too low to house even a dent in my collection! I did the best I could, but with barely ¼ of the books out of boxes, I was out of shelf space!

What to do? Plan!

Thinking about it like the engineer I was trained to be, I began calculating. Mass market paperbacks are typically this high, the majority of hardcovers are that high, including clearance and thickness for shelving and a kickplate, I’d require units yea high. And given average book thickness times quantity of books, I would need roughly 100 ft of shelf-space, and so on. An ideal solution would be a series of 60″ high bookshelves, with 5 shelves each. These are not all that hard to come by. I managed to find 60″ units with 4 shelves. I could always buy extra shelves, right? But every time I found one I thought would work, I discovered to my dismay that they had a fixed central shelf – at exactly the wrong height! Time and again, I thought I had found the perfect bookcase for my library, only to be thwarted by a in immovable central shelf. I almost gave up.

I had resigned myself to having to custom build them. Of course, hiring someone for a job like that was far beyond the price point I was willing to spend. Which left me to do it myself. I planned out the job, deciding what kind of wood, how much I would need, what size to cut the pieces, and so on. I had done some minor carpentry in the past, helping Dad build sheds, additions, etc. I knew how to do it. But without the proper tools or the free time, it would be a job that crawled along the background of my life, filling my garage with half-cut wood and rented tools. I have a brother-in-law who’s an accomplished woodworker, among many other talents. I could ask him for help, but he lives across the country and was busy with a family of his own. I was daunted, but determined.

It’s time like these that it behooves you to listen to your wife. In my case, Di mentioned checking out library supply stores for alternatives.

And there I found, among many wonderful options, this beauty:

The SAFCO WorkSpace Square Edge Bookcase.  She’s a beaut.  And I hear she made the Kessel Run in under 28 predrilled peg-holes.

Perfect, but pricey. Not sold in any store, had to be bought sight unseen online. I wasn’t willing to drop the money on getting 6 of them unseen, especially including shipping and delivery fees. So, I got 1 as a test case. Here it is below, next to a poor cousin in a 3-shelf IKEA Billy.


It’s not my fault being the biggest and the strongest.  I don’t even exercise.

It was perfect. Perfect! The only problem was the depth. There weren’t options for shallower units, and my paperbacks were drowning in this one.


Shhhh!  We’re hiding!


Car seat?  Pfft!  Take out the 2nd and 3rd rows!  There’s books at stake!

So I went ahead and got 5 more.   And after 2 weeks of missed connections and misunderstandings with the vendor, they finally arrived the last business day before Christmas!

That’s when Di came up with a perfect solution for the depth issue. Rather than the series of looooong wooden bookends to sit behind them I had planned out, which would have cost me 4 sheets of 4×8 plywood and the rental of a tablesaw (plus, possibly, fingers), I took the cardboard boxes they were shipped in, and made braces instead.

Lots and Lots of Braces (this is about half of them)


No moles were whacked in the production of this blog post.

And so, here we stand. With a gorgeous new library wall. This is my own personal collection of sci-fi, plus what was Di’s before we married, plus the inheritance. I just hope it’s enough shelf space for the rest of the collection still to come. (Alphabetized by author, some duplicates. Anthologies and Best Of collections filed after Z)

Now that I’ve got them all displayed so prettily, it’s all I can do not to go squirrel myself away reading them all.  In fact….

Here I Go.




We still have the far-traveled and long-suffering Billys, now relegated to non-fiction and mostly non-genre fiction. And…. each of the kidlets has overflowing bookcases in their own rooms as well (data not shown).

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Curious? Fictions!

Greetings everyone in Sheanland!

I know it must come as a surprise to see me popping up in whatever feeds you read this blog in, having not seen me for (searches backwards through a calendar) …a day shy of five months.

I’d like to be able to say that coming back from that silence is because there’s great and monuments things on the horizon, and there are, it’s just that horizon is far enough off that it doesn’t bear discussing just yet.

Rest assured that despite the day job and kidlets’ new school year (and new school district!) taking up large swaths of my time, I am still writing and submitting, if at a much more sedate pace than before.

Actually, the earlier pace wasn’t even quite up to sedate, it was more of a precession or an amble.  The current speed may best be described as a seep.

I did submit another story last night, at least, so the motion is forward!

All that said, I’m not posting today to talk about myself.  I’m here to promote what I believe is a fantastic new service.  Of course, I’m not being completely self-less here, I will likely benefit from this eventually, but I believe we all will too.

I want to bring your attention to Curious Fictions.

Think of it as an iTunes for Sci-Fi and Fantasy Short Stories.  You go, you sign up, and then you can browse through and pick a short story from many of today’s up-and-coming and established authors of the genre, and read it.  If you want, pay anywhere from nothing to $10 for it.  The platform just launched about a week ago, and I desperately hope is succeeds.

Curious Fictions is not the first pay-as-you-go short story platform.  But the ones that have come before all died of the same disease – lack of readers stemming from lack of publicity.

I don’t have much of a soapbox or microphone here, but I want to make sure that I am one of the voices shouting as far as I can into the void.  Go to Curious Fictions, sign up, and read stories!

They range from Flash Fiction (stories 1,000 words or less that take less than 5 minutes to read) to full on short stories (longer works, usually less than 7,000 words, taking maybe half an hour to read).  There’s no registration fee, there’s no monthly fee, there’s no dues, there’s nothing but what you decide you’re willing to pay.

“How does that work?” I hear you asking.  “How can authors afford to do that?”  There’s 2 ways.  First, all of the stories uploaded here have already been published elsewhere, and are no longer held by the exclusivity clause of their original publishers – that means the authors have already been paid for these works at least once (Usually less than $500).  Second, whatever you do decide to pay, 75% of that goes directly to the author (the rest goes to fees for the credit card transaction).

If you want to know how to help struggling authors with their careers, the best thing you can do is to buy their work and talk them up to others willing to buy their work.  In this case, read some stories.  If there’s one (or more) you like, pay for it.  You’ll be buying them a cup of coffee.  Or, if there’s enough of you, a new transmission for their minivan.

I don’t have any stories on Curious Fictions yet.  They haven’t opened up submissions to anthologies yet, so Sylvia and Larry isn’t eligible, and Super Action Excite Team Go! is still within its exclusivity period.  But rest assured, once April, 2018 rolls around, I am planning to put it up there.  Then, anyone of you who hasn’t had a chance to go buy a subscription to InterGalactic Medicine Show will still be able to read it.

That’s all I wanted to say today.  But I do plan on making a pretty cool announcement in the near future.  I’ve been planning something fantastic, and recurring, for this blog for some time, and I’m getting close to unveiling it.  So watch for announcements.  But I need to polish some things first.

Here I Go,


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A Review for “Super Action Excite Team Go!”

Hello out there in Sheanland!

When last we spoke, I was headed to Lunacon 2017, facing the prospect of a reading and sitting on 9 panels, most of them about science-related topics.

I’m thrilled to report that Lunacon was a success!  At least, as far as I could tell.  My reading was one of 8 in a block of authors in my writing group, the Brooklyn Speculative Fiction Writers.  We had a strong showing at the ‘con, with members sitting on multiple panels throughout the weekend.  And the reading was no different.  Marcy Arlin read her short “Brooklyn Fantasia” (forthcoming to Diabolical Plots next year), and Sam Schreiber read from his Analog story, “Facebook Screamed and Screamed and Then I Ate It.”  Fred Stesney, Brad Parks, Rob Cameron, Elliotte Rusty Harold, and Connor Drexler all read fantastic stories or excerpts, both published and unpublished.  I read an excerpt from “Super Action Excite Team Go!”  The fiction-starved crowd seemed to appreciate our humble offerings, and was sated.

I met some lovely authors, scientists and fans throughout the weekend, and received heartwarming feedback on my panel performance.  Overall, it was a wonderful experience, and I can’t wait to do it again.

But that’s not why I’m writing to you today.  Today, we’re turning our gaze out to the web fanzine “Tangent Online,” which just reviewed Intergalactic Medicine Show Issue #56, which, if you’ve been paying attention, has my story “Super Action Excite Team Go!”

Reviewer Rebecca DeVendra had this to say:

Super Action Excite Team Go!” by Matthew Shean is about regrowth, literally and figuratively. A middle school student deals with family tensions while helping his brother re-grow an arm; the scenes of the limb process drawing strong parallels to the memorable scene in the movie Deadpool. The characters are heartfelt, but do not resonate as much as middle-school dramas like Stand By Me or Stranger Things. It does, however, leave the reader with the warm-fuzzies at the end as there’s sweetness indicative of such coming of age tales.

Now, it never pays to respond to reviewers, and I don’t plan to start here.  All I’ll say is that you can do a lot worse than have your 5000-word short story compared to an amazing Rob Reiner movie based on a Stephen King masterpiece.  And I will gladly take “…leave the reader with the warm-fuzzies at the end as there’s sweetness indicative of such coming of age tales.”  Gladly!

Now, apparently, my story has strong parallels to parts of Deadpool.  Watching that’s been on my ‘to do’ list for a while now.  I guess I’d better get on that!

Here I Go…


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Super Action Excite Team Go!

Joyous day to you all out there in Shean-land!!!

If you recall, a few weeks ago I told you all about the sale of my story, Super Action Excite Team Go!, to the magazine InterGalactic Medicine Show.

Well, today is the day the issue with my story went live!

It’s a gorgeous issue, with lovely stories by E. Catherine Tobler, Shweta Sundararajan, Brian Trent, Steven R. Stewart, Daniel Rosen, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.  Please go check it out.

And while you are there, share with me for a moment in marveling at the gorgeous illustration M Wayne Miller did for my story.  It is remarkably beautiful, and perfectly captures both the subject matter and the feel of the story.  I can feel Sam’s desolate longing to be outside, the immature pride and exuberance of the Excite Team, and the menace of those were-crabs.  Oh my word, the were crabs!  And don’t forget the looming presence of the flying giant robots above them all!  This is perfection.  I can tell exactly which of those two guys is Kip and which is Tad, and the expression on Kira’s face, sitting on the motorcycle, breaks my heart.  She knows they’re fighting over her, despite it all.  I love it!

So please, Go on and look at M Wayne’s gorgeous artwork, read the story, and just go ahead and read the whole issue!  I know I am.

Here I Go…


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Come See Me at Lunacon!

Please come out to see me at my next public reading at the Winchester Marriot in Tarrytown, NY this weekend!

As I mentioned a week or so ago, I’ll be at Lunacon, the science fiction convention hosted annually by the Lunarian Society, this coming weekend. The panels are heavy on the science this year, and the organizers have seen fit to put me on a slew of science-related panels throughout the weekend. And–as mentioned–I’ll be doing a reading on Friday night, as part of a block of readings given by the Brooklyn Speculative Fiction Writers, my writing group.

My schedule for the con is:

Friday, April 7th

8pm – Reading: Brooklyn Speculative Fiction Writers (in Duchess)

Saturday, April 8th

10am – Possible Futures? (Grand Ballroom B)
12pm – Confronting the Monster (Grand Ballroom G)
2pm – Random Knowledge (Grand Ballroom B)
6pm – How Do We Help the Public Love Science? (Grand Ballroom B)
8pm – Our Stories of Change (Grand Ballroom B)
9pm – Real Bio-Apocalyptica (Grand Ballroom B)

Sunday, April 9th

11am – Exploring the Biology of the Anthropocene (Grand Ballroom B)
1pm – First Contact and Public Health (Grand Ballroom B)
2:30pm – Writers Groups, Degrees, Programs Oh My! (Hudson)

Again, the con is at the Westchester Marriot in Tarrytown, NY, this weekend, April 7-9, 2017.

I look forward to seeing any and all of you there!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go prepare to make a fool of myself in front of scores of potential fans.

Here I Go. . .

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Changes Are Afoot!

Hello hello hello, it’s three posts in 2 days coming out of SheanHQ. This time with 2 big news items!

Big News Item the First

Last week, when I announced I had a second story coming out, I mentioned that my career was taking another turn coming up soon. It’s time to fill you in!

After years of toiling away in molecular biology labs doing bench science, I quit that life two and a half years ago to write full time. Since then, I’ve have some success with my writing. Some publications, some encouraging rejections, public appearances, and a remarkable turn at a prestigious writing workshop. But as I said in that earlier post, the first rule everyone says about writing is don’t quit your day job.

Well, I did quit the day job, but apparently the day job hasn’t quit me. I stumbled across a job opening recently that sounded too good to pass up. And with practically no commute at that. So, I applied for the job, and miracle of miracles, I got it!

So, as of this past week, I am working at a prestigious private scientific research laboratory here on Long Island. I’m not doing bench science (thank goodness!), but I am combining my science background with my passion for writing. And that’s amazing to me. I’m working in the laboratory’s library division as a science writer/science historian/science history researcher. The job’s a bit of a hodge-podge, which is great because it means constant new things and no boredom. And the co-workers so far have been amazing. I’m still getting settled in, but things are feeling great.

But what does this all mean for Matthew Shean, author, you ask? I’m still writing. It’s still my passion, and it’s still what drives me day in and day out. But now it’s been relegated to those times outside of 9a.m. to 5p.m. weekdays. So, my output will be slower. It’s already moving at a snail’s pace, and now it’s likely to me more akin to a snail trying to get through a streak of peanut butter. But forward progress, no matter how slow, is still progress. And I am still writing. That’s the key here. And I’m happy with my choice to go back to a position of external employment.

Big News Item the Second

SheanHQ is moving!

Alas, it remains in Long Island and not nestled on the side of an imposing volcanic rock face on a deserted Pacific island or sheltered among the faceless tracts of evergreens of the Pacific Northwest, obscured by low-lying cloud cover and a persistent, foggy drizzle. No, we remain among the overcrowded LIRR-bound throngs, just this time transposed about 15 miles in an East-Northeast direction

We are, however, moving into a much more fitting lair. A lair with views of geese and a pond. And a writing loft. Not only is SheanHQ moving in the xy direction, but it is also climbing in the z-direction, up from its basement depths to an above ground, above-garage loft. Di and the kidlets will be much less cramped than previously, we’ll have the kitchen we finally deserve, and the kidlets will have access to amazing opportunities in the new school system. All major plusses.

So rejoice, for things are going very well here! Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s getting late on a Sunday night, and I need to be up early in the morning to head to work. So I need to get to bed.

Here I Go…


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I wasn’t ready for my close-up yet, Mr. Demille!

More news from SheanHQ, nestled firmly in the desolate wiles of Long Island.  This time, I’m a YouTube star*!I come with more news, and this time, I’m a YouTube star*!

*for varying definitions of ‘star.’  Your mileage may vary.  Offer not valid in AK and HI.

This year’s crop of students from Odyssey Writing Workshop feature in a video just released on YouTube discussing the merits of Odyssey, the amazing quality of the workshop, Jeanne Cavelos’ encyclopaedic knowledge, and the strong bond developed between the students.  I get a fair amount of screen time, but I believe my classmates were far more eloquent and I implore you to listen to what they have to say.  Watch the video, below:

I can’t stress enough how pivotal Odyssey has been in my developmental as a writer.  Hands down applying to go was the best decision of my writing career.  I highly recommend that any of you readers who are currently writers, or are considering becoming a genre writers, owe it to yourselves to try to attend.  Or at the very least to take one of Jeanne Cavelos’ online writing courses.  I’m thinking in particular of two of you (*cough* *cough* Jessica and Chris *cough* cough*).

I knew this video was coming, but watching it, what I was not expecting was the flood of overwhelming emotion I was hit with seeing my friends again for the first time since last summer.  Though we keep in touch in various forms of social media, tics and body language, vocal inflections and odd turns of phrase are more powerful than any tweets or status updates.  Everything came flooding back to me in an instant, and I felt thrust back into New Hampshire as if not a day had gone by.  Every one of them put a smile on my face as they came on, one after the other.  These people are a second family to me, and the intensity of Odyssey brought us together in a way I’ve rarely experienced before.I miss my friends, and I can’t wait until I get a chance to see them again in real life.  (Jeremy and Wendy – I am so sorry I wasn’t able to get away to meet up with you two in the city last week!)

So there you have it – high praise for Odyssey from those that know it best, and a little moment in the spotlight for yours truly.  What do you think, can we make this baby go viral?  You should all go watch it, I know I’m about to queue it up again.

Here I Go…


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Lunacon and another Public Reading

Greetings in Sheanland!

Much to report from SheanHQ today and tomorrow, so expect two or three posts from me this weekend.

First off – I’ll be attending Lunacon 2017 in Tarrytown, NY in two weeks (April 7-9).  I’m not typically much of a con-goer, but the BSFW (Brooklyn Speculative Fiction Writers, my writing group) is putting forth a concerted effort to maintain a high profile presence at local cons, and being a loyal member I am thrilled to be a part of their efforts.

This will be my first time going to Lunacon, and I am looking forward to it with great excitement.  If for no other reason than as a show of appreciation to the Lunarian Society, who host the con every year, for their generosity in awarding me a scholarship to attend Odyssey Writing Workshop this past summer.

In addition to meeting great new people at the con, and hopefully making some new friends, I am thrilled to announce that I will be doing a reading at the con, along with several other BSFW members.  The schedule is not yet announced, but a little birdie has told me that the BSFW crew will be reading on Friday evening starting at 8.  I’ll pass along more info when I have it.

But wait – there’s more!

I am also excited to announce that I’ll be a panelist on a handful of science-related panels.  It’s my first time paneling, and I’ve wrapped the warm, cozy quilt of Imposter Syndrome tight around my person.  It looks like on one of the panels I’ll be featured squarely in the shadow of con Guest of Honor, science fiction luminary Ben Bova.  This is a man who has written over 100 books, was editor of Analog for something close to 30 years, and has learned, forgotten, relearned, and reforgotten more about science fiction than I could ever dream.  And I’ll be on a panel with him, discussing how science fiction can and does shape the future of society.  No pressure, Matt.

So, if you’re interested, register for the con, come on out to Tarrytown and say ‘Hello!’  Come for the reading, stay for my mortal shame and embarrassment as I insert both of my feet firmly into my speaking organ on several occasions!

Here I Go…

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