Being A Functional Crazy Person Involves Knowing Your Limits.

I’ve been doing a lot of promotion for my new book – and on Tuesday, release day, I did the big push of doing two release events within eight hours. Two events where I stared at a screen and pretended to be an extrovert, reading from my new book, carrying the conversation, being interesting even though I couldn’t see an audience or a chat screen.

(If you wanna watch me do it again, I’ll be on Tubby and Coo’s YouTube at 7p.m. EST tonight. And if you want me on your podcast/YouTube/blog, well, get in touch.)

But come Wednesday, the three weeks I’d spent gearing up for Automatic Reload‘s release all came crashing down. I couldn’t think; I just stared at the screen, trying to summon up words or code or whatever. I could not speak; all my words were slurried half-stammers.

I had things to do. I had an important deadline at work. I had more events to plan. I had to retweet reviews, I had to catch up on old emails, I had to write my new book…

What I actually did was rest.

I did not want to rest.

But part of being an optimized crazy person is knowing when you can push, and when you can’t. I had been running hard since the beginning of July, knowing I was accumulating stress I could not burn off, and I knew I’d pay for it some day.

That day had arrived.

The other days, keeping up the grind was costing me, but “pushing myself” then meant “the bill was in the mail.” I could keep going, and the crash would be hard, but it wouldn’t leave scars.

Yesterday, if I’d pushed myself?

Something would have broken.

So I hated it, but I called out sick to work and played Monster Train on automatic pilot, and watched reruns of MAS*H, and curled up with my wife. I should have been doing Dramatic Things, but that effort would have torn my willpower in half, like a hernia of the brain, so I just loathed my quiet and let my body heal.

(Which is ironic, because Automatic Reload is about a guy with mental illness, and he too has inconvenient downtimes – his are in the middle of gunfights because, well, fiction, but I always magnify my actual problems into more dramatic versions for fiction’s sake.)

The point here is that I’m an experienced crazy person, and I knew when I’d hit my limits. In the past, I didn’t, and I would go “NO! I am not that mentally ill. Here, I’ll prove it, by shoving past this weakness to show you my strength,” and then I’d have some extremely bad mental meltdown, probably with very public and very embarrassing side effects.

It is humiliating to meet your absolute limits. Society tells you that you should be stronger, and your brain tells you that you’re not really mentally ill, you’re faking it, nobody has whole days where they just fog out, aren’t you buying into the idea of your own vulnerability?

When you’re chronically ill, self-care feels a lot like weakness. Because it would be a lot better if this was self-pity. It would be so much more satisfying if your real illness was drama – that this paralysis you were experiencing now was just you holding a pity party, and if you really wanted to you could man up and do what needed to be done.

The truth is this: Some days you can’t do what needs to be done. It’s inconvenient. It’s degrading.

And it’s necessary to heal so you can do the things it is possible to do.

I am taking it slow today. Like I said, I have one more appearance, and I hope y’all show up; I’ll be discussing my new book Automatic Reload, and maybe doing a new reading from a different chapter. That much, I can do.

But I can do that because I didn’t do anything yesterday. Because I shrugged aside my instincts of “This fog is bullshit” to give into the recuperation, to rest, to be temporarily helpless so I could be strong tomorrow.

It’s not a fun lesson. But ironically, it’s part of the book I’m promoting. Go figure.

The Automatic Reload Virtual Book Tour Dates! Starting… Tomorrow!

Automatic Reload will be out tomorrow, and in lieu of my usual book tour, I’ll be doing virtual meetings – meetings that you can sign up for!

At 1:00 EST tomorrow, I’ll be appearing on WorldBuilders with Gray Miller

And at 7:00 EST I’ll doing a Q&A with the Cuyahoga Public Library….

And Thursday at 5:00 EST, I’ll be appearing at Tubby and Coo’s.

I invite you all to come see me, if only because – as always – I am terrified of making a big fuss and then showing up to find I have no audience. If you can sign up and make me feel less lonely, I’d appreciate it! I promise to be as vibrant and dazzling a guest as I possibly can.

And yes, Automatic Reload is coming out tomorrow – Tor’s already posted the action-soaked opening three chapters, but they also just posted the more reflective PTSD-trauma excerpt, where we see our hero working in his laboratory, doing his best Tony Stark in Iron Man 3 riff.

So what you got is your last hours to preorder the book and get the exclusive 10,000 novelette ‘Mancer story “Aliyah’s Sixteenth Birthday, Or: The Final Burning Of Paul Tsabo.”

So anyway! Enough publicity. Until tomorrow. AND THEN HOO BOY MORE PUBLICITY

“I Don’t Feel Like I’m Really Polyamorous.” Here’s Why You Are.

They talk to me in whispers, in private conversations, in closed chat rooms, these hushed confessions:

“I don’t feel like I’m really polyamorous.”

Sometimes they don’t feel like they deserve the Badge of Poly because they’re solo poly – they just want to date a lot of people and live single in their apartment,and if they’re not seeking a primary partner can they really be poly?

Sometimes they don’t feel like they deserve the Official Medal Of The Polyamoric Experience because they’re in a closed triad, having only dated the same two people for fifteen years, and if they’re not actively seeking new partners can they really be poly?

Sometimes they don’t feel like they deserve to be considered an official Colonel of the Polyamorous Field Wars because they’re asexual and they have deeply romantic ties with several people but there’s not really any physical connection, and if they’re not bumping the bits then can they really be poly?

And the answer is: Yes.

No, I lie: the true answer is Fuck yes.

Because here’s the trick: Monogamy is one very narrow version of how romantic relationships can form – basically, one on one, exclusive. (And there’s a hell of a lot of variation to be had even within that quote-unquote “narrow” version, because humans are complex and the world is large, but the gist of the ideal is pretty much “You eventually find one person to stay with until one of you is dead.”)

But polyamory?

Is literally every other kind of relationship you can have that’s not monogamy.

Saying that polyamory and monogamy are opposites is a terrible definition, because they’re not actually opposed. Monogamy is like New York City – it’s ridiculously popular and influential, and certainly lots of people live in New York City or in places with similarities to New York City….

But “not living in New York City” isn’t actually a well-defined experience. Maybe you live in the farmlands. Maybe you live in the suburbs. Maybe you live in a trailer, or on a commune, or in a geodesic dome.

New York City isn’t the opposite of the world, it’s just an outsized experience that’s given a wildly disproportionate amount of attention. And you don’t see people say “I don’t feel that I’m not really not living in New York City” because they’re living in Saskatoon.

Likewise, all it takes to be polyamorous is to not be monogamous. And monogamy is so omnipresent in Western culture that simply stepping away from that expectation is a hurdle in and of itself.

So the good news: You are polyamorous. You’re valid. The true polyamorous experience is as simple as realizing that monogamy doesn’t entirely fit you, and you need something a little off the rack – and so you’re aiming your relationships, no matter how imperfectly, in that direction.

Admittedly, there are a few doofy One True Wayers who’ll tell you that you’re not really polyamorous unless your poly looks like their poly – which is entirely coincidental, I’m sure – but as always, you can ignore the dorks.

What you’re doing? It’s valid, it’s poly, it ticks all the boxes. Furthermore, it’s probably approaching a good poly, as you’re trying to figure out how to shape a customized experience to fulfill your needs, as opposed to stepping away from the constrictions of monogamy to take up an entirely new set of constrictions.

In short, your experiences with polyamory right now:

  • Is polyamory
  • Are valid
  • Are hopefully healthy for you and your partners, so long as you’re treating everyone with respect.

And that’s all ya need to know.

The Discord Invites Have Gone Out!

On Tuesday, I said “Sign up for my newsletter, where on Thursday I’ll be sending out invites to my new Discord server.”

Well, it’s Thursday, and those invites have been sent. Look for ’em from, with the extremely subtle title “The Invite To My Discord Server!” – unfortunately, my newsletter seems to get marked as spam more often than I’d like (like every other newsletter, really), but it should be there.

If you have signed up for my newsletter and your email client ate it, email me at with the subject “Lost Discord Invite” and I’ll see what I can do.

If you did not sign up for my newsletter and you want a Discord invite, well, sign up now, because I’ll be sending out another invite next week to celebrate my new book Automatic Reload releasing.

And if you’re in my Discord right now, yes, it’s really busy because, well, we just invited a ton of people. It’ll calm down. I promise. But we’ll be happy to see you.

Did You Want An Invite To My Discord Server?

As mentioned before, I’ve started up a Discord server, and it’s been going pretty well… in part because it’s been invite-only, and the people involved have been extremely cool. There’s been a lot of interesting discussions ranging from Heinlein to Hamilton.

I’ll be sending out more Discord invites this Thursday, but the only way to get that invite is to sign up for my newsletter. (And, ideally, check your spam on Thursday to check it’s there.)

The newsletter is where you can also win the last advance copies of my book Automatic Reload, which is coming out a week from now.

So all I need is an email address, I promise not to spam it (I mean, I’ve sent literally two newsletters in the last six months, but there’ll be a few more thanks to book), and in return you’ll get an invite to a pretty hip chat room.

Anyway. Again, newsletter is here, invites Thursday, that is all.