The Best Way To Get Me Out To Your Favorite Convention? Ask Me.

Over the last couple of days, I’ve had some folks asking me: “Will you be attending my favorite convention this year?”

My answer is, inevitably, “Nobody’s asked me.”

So why do you have to ask?

I’m happy to attend conventions in 2020, simply because I’ve got my cyberpunk romance comedy book Automatic Reload to promote, so showing up at your favorite convention to say “HELLO I AM HERE I AM AN AUTHOR HOW ARE YOU?” is something I’m willing to do.

But as an author and occasional presenter on polyamorous topics, I have three reasons for attending a convention:

1) Someone Is Putting Me On Cool Panels.
If you just like me as an author and have a literary convention, ask them to invite me as a guest. Literary conventions can pay my way by putting me on panels – panels where I get to discuss my book, meet new authors, sign books for fans.

(In truth, I never make enough at literary conventions to pay the bills, but depending on where they’re located, it’s fun meeting new people/authors/fans.)

So if you have a con where there’s authors who talk about their books, get your convention to extend me an invite as an author, preferably with a list of panels they’d like me to be on. The further in advance you can do this, the better; my May is filling up now.

2) Someone Is Paying Me To Be There To Teach A Class.
This usually means that some kind convention has offered to pay my travel expenses and hotel costs so that I can do presentations and/or workshops for them. (Also see my post I Teach Classes! Ask Me How!)

(Note: These classes are not getting me rich; I usually pay more in food and expenses than I make.)

But! For a convention to be willing to pay to fly a Ferrett out to, say, Nevada or Florida or Norway, someone at that convention has to say, “You know who’d be a fantastic guest? Ferrett.” (And, in fact, usually that has to be several people wanting me to present.)

If nobody on the convention board has heard of me, they won’t pay for my travel expenses. Which is fair; I’m still debating how much of a public presence I’m going to be going forward.

But on the other hand, if you’ve liked my poly essays and feel like I might be a good fit to teach your event, my class notes are readily available to give you an idea of what I might talk about.

3) This Convention Seems Like A Fun Time.
If I think a convention might be fun, I’ll spend my own cash to go there! I do it all the time – I always hit up ConFusion in January in Detroit, and I’ll be attending the NASFIC convention in Columbus this summer.

But these conventions are expensive in two ways! If it’s money, I have to pay for travel and hotels. And if it’s mental energy, I am a socially anxious introvert who panics at the thought of meeting people.

So telling me, “Come to a convention where you know nobody to meet a bunch of strangers”? Not a real draw.

If your convention is literary, tell me of the fantastic discussions you have! What new authors might I meet? What panels might I be on? And if it’s a kink convention, what’s happening there that might tempt me to spend $400 of my own cash to drop a weekend there?

And, of course, who are you? Obviously, you’re asking me there – telling me who’s there that might be fun to hang out with is a part of the experience.

But again, I pretty much need to be sold on the concept. The answer to “Are you attending this convention you’ve never heard of?” is a flat “No.” Thanks to my anxieties, I will never show up to a convention cold just for fun – that’s more like torture. I gotta plan my conventions like a mental heist, where I circumvent all my usual social anxieties to have fun, and that requires planning.

That Final Note: Ask.
I am, at best, a reluctant public figure these days – but I do have books I’d like to discuss in front of strangers, and I do like the good of discussing what I consider to be healthy polyamorous strategies with people. I’d like to meet you.

But it all starts with that ask. I’m available at theferrett@theferrett.com – hit me up (or, preferably, have your convention hit me up) if you’re interested in having me somewhere.

And that is that.

My Cyberpunk Romance Got A Starred Review From Publishers’ Weekly!

In case you were wondering what my upcoming book Automatic Reload was like, Publishers’ Weekly had some really nice things to say:

A cyborg mercenary works to protect a genetically enhanced woman from a powerful corporation in this consistently surprising, hyperkinetic action adventure from Steinmetz (The Sol Majestic). ….

Steinmetz expertly fuses cyberpunk staples and romantic comedy elements to deliver an over-the-top, action-packed tale while also addressing mental illness and body issues. In tackling Silvia’s panic disorder and Mat’s PTSD, as well as their respective feelings of dysphoria, Steinmetz imbues this rip-roaring tale with a surprising amount of sensitivity and heart. This thoroughly satisfying story works as both thriller and romance.

https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-250-16821-4

Which is really nice, as this is my second starred review from Publishers’ Weekly in a row. I don’t know if starred reviews translate to sales, but good reviews always make me happy.

If you’d like to get an advance copy of Automatic Reload before it publishes in May, there’s two ways for you to get it before the release date:

  • If you’re a book reviewer, email me at theferrett@theferrett.com and let me know you’d like to read it. I’ll get a copy to you.
  • If you’re not a book review but can tolerate once-a-month emails, subscribing to my newsletter automatically enters you into a monthly drawing for a freebie. Plus, you get to hear what I’m up to!

And if you can do neither, remember, ordering a book in advance is literally the best thing you can do for any author. Advance sales mean more bookseller commitment, more publisher faith in the book, more happiness all around. So if you feel like committing your hard-earned bucks to my book, here’s how you can do it:

Thanks!

The 2019 Annual Greed List!

Every year, I publish my Christmas list for public consumption, jokingly calling it “The Greed List.” It’s not because I expect you to get anything for me. 

(Though the first two items are free gifts that may be useful to you as well, so maybe checking them out wouldn’t hazardous.)  

The reason I publish it, and hence commit these lists to the communal memory, is that I think “What you want” is a reflection of “Who you are” at this moment – your music, your hobbies, your fandoms, all help define who you are as a person.  I find it a fascinating history, watching how what I’ve desired has mutated – for example, the list used to be heavy on physical Things, which then changed slowly into digital objects as MP3s and iTunes became big, and now as I’m renting a lot of digital stuff nowadays I’m back to wanting Things again.

(And it allows me to chronicle strange bumps in my desires; for example, 2016’s list contained not one single book. Why? Was it because I stopped loving books?  No!  It’s because I just got off a book tour promoting my book Fix, and I was so overflowing with books that I needed to run down my pile. If you’re curious as to what I’m reading at the moment, well, my GoodReads automatically tracks most of it; feel free to follow me.)

(And also, well, I’ve directed my family to look at my blog for my Christmas and Birthday lists – and my Dad wants me to publish it, so here we are. I’m still on blogging hiatus, but I’d forgotten that I had this as a commitment.)

And while I guess I could just shove my Amazon Wishlist at you without context, why bother?  I want you to know who I am in this moment, and so I not only list what I want, but explain why I want it.

So.  Here’s what I’d like for this holiday season.

50 Amazon Reviews On The Sol Majestic. (Free!)
My book The Sol Majestic came out this year, to grand reviews and middling sales. It was always a hard-to-market beast; a gay foodie space opera? Oh, God, any one of those things would be a hard sell, let alone combined.

Still, those who got there largely took The Sol Majestic as what I’d intended; it’s not been a bestseller, but those who loved it found it to be somewhat of a sacred text.

Basically, those what loved The Sol Majestic really loved it, and those what didn’t skipped past.

But what irritates me about The Sol Majestic is Amazon’s review list. It’s rumored in the industry that 50 reviews is the magic number that lets a book be on promotions, on sales, in recommendations – and The Sol Majestic has been hovering at 48 reviews for, like, two months.

So if you’ve read The Sol Majestic and if you haven’t already left a review, then maybe leave a review on Amazon as a special Christmas present to me? And if you haven’t bought it, well, the great American indie bookstore Powells just listed it as one of their best science-fiction books of 2019. So maybe it’s not too late for any of us.

Dank Memes. (Free.)
As noted, I’ve shut down my social media accounts as of yesterday, and it’s already pretty lonely. I’m staying in touch with people (and feel free to email me) – but severing the ties from social media means that I am now bereft of Baby Yoda memes.

I have no idea how the Internet is having fun these days. So if you see a meme you think I’d laugh at, trust that I haven’t seen it – and maybe send it to me?

Buy My Next Book, AUTOMATIC RELOAD. ($16.99)
If you’re looking for romance and gunfire, for PTSD and automated cyborg combat, for human bravery in the face of computer-targeted guns that, for all intents and purposes, will never miss – well, my new book might be for you.

The Outer Worlds (Playstation 4, $59.99)
2018 may have been a nadir for the kinds of roleplaying games that I like; the big, sprawling story-heavy games had evaporated, and the game companies had put narrative-free “shooters as a service” in place, where people just ran around and shot things and nothing mattered.

I don’t do games without a motivation. It’s not enough to “git gud” at a game; I have to know why I’m slaughtering my way through a warehouse of colorful aliens.

Then, in 2019, the “shooters as a service” market collapsed. It turns out there’s only so many shooters you can play at a time for a couple of hours an evening, and when a newer game comes out it eats into the older games’ time, and several classic companies came out with rushed misfires (talkin’ to you, BioWare and Bethesda).

And then the best game of 2019 came out – Disco Elysium – which was a miracle of gaming, but I’ve already played it. But the second-best RPG, Outer Worlds, has gotten beautiful reviews for its story – and I saved it, because someone had to get me something for Christmas.

Untitled Goose Game (PC, $19.99)
Remember when I said I would lose fun things by being off the Internet?

Untitled Goose Game is the prime example of the good things I’ll miss by deactivating my Facebook and Twitter.

Untitled Goose Game is just that – a malicious goose goes around town, picking on the town’s inhabitants. It went viral on the net because people loved the idea of a game with a comparatively harmless goose being a dick, and the game provided the experience people wanted.

Unfortunately, it’s not available in physical form – if you want to get this to me, you’ll have to get me a gift certificate from Epic. Still. Worth it.

PlayStation 4 Pro ($325)
Okay, this is a weird one because it’s low. But that said:

The PlayStation Pro is basically a PlayStation 4, but with 4k hi-def graphics. And I want one because it would make my games very much prettier on our big-screen television, but it’s also not, strictly speaking, necessary; I just want the pretty games.

But I also have a light list this year, so I don’t know. Life is pretty good. We’re doing well. I have lots of books, and bourbon, and shirts; if my family wanted to pitch in on this to get me something, I’d be happy, but beyond that I don’t know.

(And in terms of truly stupid purchases I can’t justify, I want the PlayStation VR to play Beat Saber and yet the whole shebang is like $600, and who the heck wants to pay that for one game?)

(Don’t mention the fact that we essentially did that for Rock Band.)

So this is a very short list, and most of it is communication. That’s where I’m at this year, I guess; good financially, struggling for healthy connections.

And, you know, trying to sell books. 🙂

Another Blog Bites The Dust, Or: Why I’m Stepping Down From Social Media.

When I was twenty, I loved Howard Stern, so the essays I wrote for the college newspaper were ripoffs of his ridiculously self-revelatory radio show. If you went on the show, nothing was sacred – you’d reveal the embarrassing arguments you had with your wife, you’d discuss your weirdo quirks, you’d share your most humiliating secrets.

So that’s what I did: I wrote about myself.

And when I got my own website in 1997, I put some of those old essays up on my site, and got a mild following for That Guy Who Wrote The Wildly Personal Essays. Which continued into LiveJournal and FetLife, where I continued to expose my life for the education and entertainment and occasional punishment of crowds, until one day I hit fifty and I realized:

Why am I still living by Howard Stern rules?


Now, if I’d revealed ridiculously intimate details of my mental health and sex life and my relationships for thirty years and I felt people had a good bead on who I was, I’d probably consider that a win. But I don’t feel that they do.

At one point recently, someone reviewed a book of mine by saying something like “Ferrett sells a lot of books, seemingly because he’s a nice guy” – which is a thought I’ve been pondering a lot lately.

I can be a nice guy. I try to be. Every day I work hard to be better than the raging asshole I was in my early twenties.

Yet still: I’m intensely human, with three barriers to work with – I’m not the most socially adept person on the planet, I’m towing years of ciswhitedudely privilege that I keep unpacking one block at a time, and I have severe mental illnesses that get in the way.

All those buried assumptions mean that I can – and do – fuck up and hurt people I care about.

And on the occasions I’ve tried to write honestly about those fuckups – to say, “Hey, I was a total shithead here, please learn from my mistakes” – I almost always got misinterpreted, with well-intentioned defenders covering for me (with that old infected bandage of “You meant well”) or the folks who disliked me assuming I was trying to cover for me, because Ferrett is a nice guy and he means well and aren’t his words comforting? Maybe a little too comforting?

For years, I’ve felt like I’ve been slowly losing some remnant of my humanity – what I’d like to be seen is as a flawed human who has some pretty monumental errors to overcome, but instead what all-too-often gets passed around is “Ferrett is cool” – and while I do try to be cool to as many people as I can, with the number of people I interact with, I’m pretty much guaranteed to step on someone’s foot.

And I felt that the image I’m presenting was all too often being reduced to either “Ferrett’s a great guy” or “Ferrett is a monster pretending to be a great guy,” and neither is close to the human truth of “Ferrett has a decent batting average, but let’s not pretend he’s an all-star either.”

(And if that’s how you’ve interpreted me all along… thank you. Sincerely. Thank you.)

I’ve been working with my therapist on that for almost two years now, and increasingly feeling like a fraud. I’ve grown to dislike the public persona. I feel it’s a shallow and reductive idea of who I am. I don’t want some arbitrary image of me to become a marketing tool.

So why not stop?


On Monday, I’ll abandon my Twitter account, shut down Facebook and FetLife, and stop blogging (with one exception that I’ll discuss).

I’m really scared.

The Internet is where I make my friends. The Internet is where I find out about all those cool memes. The Internet is where I find the new and cool books, where I find out about the public crises of the day, where I find clever jokes.

But the social side of the Internet is where I also feel like I’m exuding a persona, and despite two years of trying to unentangle that persona, I haven’t gotten closer to a solution.

I don’t know what I’ll do with all that free time. I know how many hours a day I spend reflexively checking into Twitter, chatting with buddies. If you have a group chat of people who know me and could use a Ferrett, well, I’d like the company.

(Ironically, the place I feel most comfortable is Facebook, where I’m mostly with my friends, but Facebook is also totally fucking evil and I was planning on shutting it down come New Years’ Eve anyway, so that’s gone.)

If you and I have talked beforehand and you’d like to continue to talk afterwards, well, my email address is theferrett@theferrett.com, and if you have my number, well, you have my number. Maybe I’ll transition to secret Slack servers and be just as content.

But if I’m not, I’ll get by.


Another issue: the Internet is also where I’ve been meeting my partners – and I think that has to stop, too.

Because I met my wife online, I used to think that you could judge compatibility through texts and emails, and so when we went poly I was happy to have near-strangers down for a test weekend to see whether our smooching was compatible – and while the communications usually went well on both sides, occasionally they really, disastrously didn’t, so I stopped having people over. Then I started flirting at kink conventions, and again, that usually went well, but there were a couple of occasions where I inadvertently pressured people, so I stopped that.

And while I have a handful of fulfilling sexual relationships I have gleaned from meeting people on the Internets (and thank you if you’re one of them), the Internet courtship means there’s often not enough real-life time to work problems out, leading to relationships which go really well until we need to hash out complex problems that don’t do well with texted words or cold phone calls. (Also see: mental health issues, on either side of the equation.) That’s led to some relationships that turned out to be fairly traumatic, if not downright abusive, for me.

And that last paragraph reveals another problem with dating while being a public persona: It could describe several of my relatonships, and yet any of my exes who read that might think it was specifically targeted at them. Blogging about personal issues without revealing personal details has been a continual landmine as long as I’ve written about polyamory, and there comes a point where the public discussions wind up hurting people who think that’s aimed at them – even if it’s not.

If I’ve been flirting with you, please – continue to flirt. But I’m going to be far more cautious in moving forward (and it’s not like it was easy before).

And when writing, or teaching, about polyamory becomes an active hindrance to fulfilling personal relationships, well, sorry, I gotta choose. So rather than risking people feeling called out by an essay that might not have even been about them, that aspect of my life’s gotta die on the vine.


Note that I haven’t said I’ll be off the Internet forever. Because I’m still writing books. I’ve got my new book AUTOMATIC RELOAD due out sometime in May, and I’ll doubtlessly be writing essays to remind you of it and saying “Hi I’m here” because, well, that’s what authors gotta do.

And I may write a few personalish essays when I get back, because that’s what reminds you I’m alive come the Novel.

But my hope is that going dark for a few months will burn some of this need to perform out of me. It’s not you, as the saying goes, it’s me. It’s all too easy when I’m having a bad day to turn to the brightness of social media, to say “HEY PAY ATTENTION TO ME” and get the attention that maybe’s not healthy.

The goal is for that to be gone, or at least to massively lessen the overlap between my personal and my public life. I may fail at that. (Also see: Human.) But I can at least give it a try.


If you’d like to stay in touch, the one place I will commit to writing once a month at it is in my personal newsletter. I’ll keep you informed there, so subscribe if you’d like the opportunity to see me nerding out about weird things.

And, as noted, if you already know me and feel like chatting privately or group chats, I’m amenable. I just don’t wanna be OMG FERRETT IS HERE, but rather “Hey! Good to see you.”

In any case, I’m leaving things up over the weekend so if anyone wants to know what happened, it’s out long enough to propagate.

And if I don’t catch you… have a great goddamned day.

Announcing My New Book: Automatic Reload!

CYBER Monday? I thought you said CYBORG Monday!

So let’s talk about my new cyborg rom-com with explosions AUTOMATIC RELOAD, now available for preorder in a bookstore near YOU!

(Oh, and if you share this post on either Facebook or Twitter I’ll enter you into a drawing for a free copy so do it do it DO IT)

Automatic Reload: Tougher Than My Garage Tools.

AUTOMATIC RELOAD’s AO3 tags would be:

* Superhuman female assassins with panic disorder
* Next-generation cybercombat in a world that’s made human soldiers obsolete
* Quippy banter in the face of deadly threats
* Sentient vacuum cleaners as pets
* Maintenancepunk
* Kissing books

And if you’re looking for personal quirks of Ferrett wedged in, how about:
* Opposite Cat made flesh
* Programming and how image processing applies to high-velocity firefights
* Cigar culture
* James Bond-style adventures with the misogyny stripped off

Anyway: AUTOMATIC RELOAD won’t be coming out for a few months, but you can order it today! From Amazon! Barnes and Noble! Or may I suggest your faithful independent bookstore?

https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781250168214

And as noted – if you share this post on social media, I’ll put you in a drawing to win a free copy by Christmas!

HERE IS MAH BOOK

IS FULLA SPLOSIONS AN SMOOCHING

PLEASE BE A HALP

MARRY XMAXS!

The author, with books he would like to give to you.

How Disco Elysium’s Skill Tree Teaches You Valuable Life Lessons

So Disco Elysium. Best game of the year. If you like great writing, in the vein of Planescape: Torment, then buy it right away.

But Disco Elysium is great in part because it makes some startlingly deep insights about human consciousness – and those insights are rooted straight in its skill tree.

Because in Disco Elysium, you start out with twenty-four wildly unique skills to distribute your points in – yet each of those skills not only covers the skill, but your desire to use the skill. Electrochemistry not only tracks your knowledge of drug use, but your fiending for a good shot of heroin. The Authority skill not only tells you how to respond when someone challenges your position in life’s hierarchy, but also tracks your need for respect.

Furthermore: Each of those twenty-four skills is a unique voice within your head, fully characterized. Conceptualization is forever trying to make sense of the world for you, making strange observations. Savoir Faire is lofty, hip, above it all. Encyclopedia is an eager little kid who can’t wait to info-dump what they know into your brain.

That’s all weird, but that’s not the insightful bit.

Because I played Disco Elysium in my traditional style – if there’s a way to be a charismatic psychology major in a game, I will. So I dumped my hard-earned points into Rhetoric, Suggestion, and Drama as the game went on, becoming more and more insightful.

And as I maxed out those skills to superhuman levels, I got a lot worse at the game.

Because the skills were not just skills, but personality traits unto their own. And my mighty Rhetoric skill was forever leaping into conversations, mentioning this person had a bad argument that I could dismantle; my flex of a Logic skill informed me that this human being had just contradicted themself, would I like to make a skill check to point that out?

And unlike every other RPG in the galaxy, just because Disco Elysium gives you a skill check doesn’t mean that it is wise to take that skill check.

What I discovered as the game went on is that Rhetoric was not actually my friend. It allowed me to out-argue people – but often that just made them sullenly compliant, or swayed them away from helpful insights they might have been able to offer, or it let me talk myself into bad ideas that a less-debateful person might have avoided. Taking every Encyclopedia check made me into a know-it-all. Logic could point out when someone contradicted themselves, but we all do that, and maybe Empathy would have been a better choice.

The game eventually became about not just having these immense skills, but knowing when to use them.

Which reflects a lot of my personal life. I’m a tenacious debater, fiercely committed to the tussle of ideas both in the public and personal sphere. But there have been times I’ve been so caught up in “winning the argument” that I failed to notice that I was attempting to debate someone out of a legitimate complaint, or so caught up in pursuing contradictions that I missed the deep well of suffering and denial that those contradictions sprung from.

Disco Elysium is a unique experience because of all games, it teaches you that there’s a big difference between having a strength and knowing when to use it. And the skill tree is not quite as treacherous as I’m making it seem – usually, getting a good roll leads to good results.

But you have to be careful. Because it’s not enough to have the highest IQ in the room. You have to balance that out with the emotional intelligence to know when it’s time to apply those skills, and when it’s time to not be misled by the internal biases of your own strengths.

It’s a lot closer to life. And a lot more meaningful.

And, it must be said, a lot more satisfying when you nail that balance.