Archive for December, 2006

12/31/06: David’s Index for 2006

Short fiction words written: 44,485
Novel words written: 9,205
Notes, outline, and synopsis words written: 9,946
Blog words written: 44,048
Total words written: 107,684

New stories written: 3 (2 short stories, 1 novella)
Existing stories revised: 2

Short fiction submissions sent: 27
Responses received: 21
Rejections: 18
Acceptances: 3 (3 pro, 0 semi-pro)
Other sales: 7 (2 reprints, 4 translations, 1 audio)
Awaiting response: 8

Short stories published: 7 (3 pro, 1 reprint, 2 translations, 1 audio)

Novel submissions: 4
Rejections: 4
Acceptances: 0
Awaiting response: 1

Agent submissions: 3
Rejections: 2
Acceptances: 1

Major award nominations: 1
Minor award nominations: 0
Major awards won: 1

Happy New Year!

12/30/06: Failure of discipline

Word count: 9205 | Since last entry: 1063

We have returned from Kennewick in one piece. Presents were exchanged, dogs and small children were played with, much good food was eaten. The weather was great, clear and cold the whole time, and on the drive back the Columbia River was mirror-smooth, so that the opposite shore appeared to be a floating island. We do live in a very pretty place.

In the last week I’ve been pretty down on myself for lack of discipline. I’ve been eating too much, exercising too little, and writing not at all. But, as Kate points out, this is expected — nay, demanded — at this time of year. Despite this, I still felt bad about it, and today I did something about it: I went to the gym, and I took advantage of my critique group meeting being canceled to sit down and write. I surprised myself by turning out over a thousand words, in a scene in which my main character is arguing for her life in a situation where she barely speaks the language (actually it’s more complicated than that).

My mood was also greatly raised by an envelope that arrived in the last mail delivery of the year: Gardner Dozois is buying my Aeon Award shortlisted story “I Hold My Father’s Paws” for his 24th annual Year’s Best Science Fiction anthology. This is my first appearance in the Dozois Year’s Best antho and I’m right chuffed about it.

12/27/06: Good news from Poland

Word count: 8142 | Since last entry: 0 I’ve been rather down on the writing lately, what with the latest rejection and all. I’m afraid I’m running out of major publishers, but my agent is still enthusiastic about the book and advises me to put my energy into writing the next one. But with all the holiday foofaraw around here, I haven’t been finding the time to do that either. But a bit of good news arrived yesterday, in the form of a registered mail package from Poland containing two copies of the November issue of Nowa Fantastyka. My name was on the cover in big letters, and inside I found my story “Tk’Tk’Tk,” translated into Polish, with four great interior illustrations. I don’t know if the translation is any good, but the illustrator (whose name I couldn’t find) clearly read and understood the story. This is almost better than a good review. Heading off to Kennewick this morning. May or may not blog in the interval, depending on availability of time and bandwidth.

12/25/06: Tranquility

Word count: 8142 | Since last entry: 465

A very laid-back Christmas Day here. Woke up at a reasonable hour and fixed gingerbread waffles, then went back to bed for another couple hours. We opened one present each — I got Kate an orange juicer because she always orders fresh-squeezed OJ when we go out for breakfast, and she got me a copy of Lost Girls because I asked for it. Lazed about for much of the day, and watched the DVD of So I Married an Axe Murderer that the guys at work had loaned me so I wouldn’t be culturally deprived.

In the evening we had our traditional Christmas Day movie and squid dinner with our friend Michael — the movie was the new Casino Royale, which has a lot to recommend it (not least the hot new Bond, Daniel Craig) and the squid, unfortunately, was at a random Vietnamese restaurant because Thien Hong, home of the finest pepper-salted squid we’ve ever eaten, is closed on Mondays. Even if Monday happens to fall on a Christmas Day. Bastards.

Back to work tomorrow, for one day, then I’m taking the rest of the week off. Life is hard.

12/24/06: And so this is Christmas…

Word count: 7677 | Since last entry: 468 …or Christmas Eve, anyway.
We had a party yesterday, an open house where a couple dozen folks showed up to assemble jigsaw puzzles, talk, and eat. I made brownies using the recipe on the back of the Ghirardelli chocolate can, with the addition of some peppermint extract and mint chocolate chips, and OMG were they good. I’m not quite sure where today went. Went to the gym this morning, cleaned up from the party, went out for lunch, spent too much time online. We’re going to a dance performance in a little while, followed by dinner with friends. Tomorrow we will open some presents, but most of the presenting will be done when we get together with Kate’s family in Kennewick later this week. I hadn’t planned to take any time off this week, but then we decided to take two days for this trip, and now I’m thinking we’ll spend the second night there and come back a day later. I don’t think anyone at work will miss me for that extra day. I bought myself a new phone, a Treo 700p, and I’m liking it a whole lot. Gmail and Google Maps are the killer apps for this platform, for sure. I’m extremely glad I sprang for the unlimited data plan, because if I had all this power at my fingertips and I had to count every kilobyte I’d be going mad right about now. I’ve been fighting some WiFi interference issues that make my home digital music system flake out at irregular intervals. I’m pretty sure that it’s interference from a non-WiFi device such as a cordless phone or microwave, or possibly a WiFi network that’s not broadasting its SSID, because there’s no other WiFi network showing up on the same channel but the problem looks just the same as the interference I see when I run the microwave. But neither of my two closest neighbors was home Friday evening and I was definitely seeing the problem then. Might be my back-fence neighbor. I really need some kind of signal strength meter with a directional antenna to figure out where the problem is coming from. But if it turns out to be my neighbor’s phone or microwave, what do I do then? I’m considering some kind of signal booster to try to power past the problem, but unfortunately my cheapo wireless router (which I have to use because it is the only one supported by my DSL provider) doesn’t even have a detachable antenna so I’m not sure how I’d even connect it. As for the writing… well, things have not been going too well on that front. I’ve been writing only a hundred words a day on those days I’ve been writing at all (missed three days this week). And I got another rejection on the novel, this one from DAW. Plus another short story rejection. Bah, humbug.

12/15/06: Any day you see a heron is a good day

Word count: 7209 | Since last entry: 2062

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted. Sorry. I did start this entry yesterday, but then the power to our whole neighborhood was knocked out by the massive wind storm that pummeled the whole Pacific Northwest. (The power came back a few hours later, while we slept, and we had no other damage, unlike Mary Rosenblum, who lost a shed and an apple tree when a huge tree landed on them.)

Tonight I had a phone interview with Jason Rennie, host of The Sci Phi Show (, a podcast from Australia that looks at questions of science fiction and philosophy. I talked about where my ideas come from, and how I differ from my characters, and my history and ambitions as a writer. I think it went well, and it should be up on the site in January.

I’ve been writing 100-300 words every day — haven’t missed a day yet this month. It doesn’t feel like much progress, but this tortoise-like steady progression is better than longer but intermittent bursts. Or so I tell myself. I’m learning about the world and the characters as I go — a vaguely-defined group of aliens that my protagonist encounters in chapter 2 of the outline has resolved into a single, elderly cat-like creature named Huss (at least so far). I like him.

I don’t feel that this novel has really found its voice yet, and I think my protagonist is far too independent and self-assured for a traumatized 14-year-old. I might decide that it’s easier to change my notion of who she’s supposed to be to match the way she’s turning out, rather than to go back and rewrite her to be more the way I originally conceived of her.

It’s also very hard to write any kind of meaningful description when the viewpoint character’s whole world is made up. Not only do I have to decide what the alien ship looks like, I have to describe it using referents that the main character (who was raised on a different alien ship) would have, rather than using analogies or metaphors that will be meaningful to the reader. Why did I set myself such a hard task?

Apart from the writing… well, I had a pretty head-exploding day on Tuesday. First, I learned that I have been selected as one of the top 7% of engineering staff in the company. What this means is that, along with about 100 other employees and their spouses, Kate and I will be taking a trip at company expense… to Phuket, Thailand. It will be some time in February and I don’t yet know how long we will be gone or any other details. It doesn’t seem real yet.


Right after getting that email I headed off to meet with our financial adviser. We’d paid for a detailed analysis of our retirement situation, to answer the question of exactly when we will be able to afford to retire. And the answer came back: we are already making more from our investments than from my day job. And even the most conservative estimates of inflation and return on those investments indicate that they will continue to provide enough for us to live on, in the style to which we’ve become accustomed, for the forseeable future.

I can retire any time.


I enjoy my job (well, most aspects of it, most of the time). I’m good at it and, after all these years, I’ve finally reached a place that people respect and request my opinions. I feel a certain responsibility to my co-workers, not to mention that I want to see my current project, which I have been working on for between one and four years depending on how you count it, through to shipment some time next year. But the commute — lord, I’m tired of the commute. And it would be nice to be able to make travel plans without having to eke them out of a limited vacation budget.

So I’m probably going to retire in 2007. Or I might scale back to three or four days a week and keep on for longer than that. I don’t know — I haven’t discussed it with my boss yet. I talked with my dad and he suggested that there’s considerable value in continuing to work, even when you don’t need the money, for the external stimulus. It’s certainly true that Scott Adams’s work on Dilbert went downhill when he quit the day job.

Retirement is an extremely strange thing to contemplate. I’ve been going to work every weekday for twenty-three years, or thirty-nine if you count going to school as “work.” Although I’m sure I could find plenty to fill the empty days (everyone I know who’s retired says they can’t imagine how they found the time for the day job with all the other things they have to do) I still have a lot of trouble imagining what life would really be like if every day were Saturday. Yes, even with the writing.

As I was driving to work this morning, Code Monkey by Jonathan Coulton came up on the iPod and I found myself crying. And laughing at the same time, because it’s a silly little song and a stupid thing to get all weepy about. But there you have it.

And I saw a heron. Any day you see a heron is a good day.

12/4/06: Walking the horse

Word count: 5147 | Since last entry: 1393

I did get back on the horse, the day after my last entry, and I’ve written at least a few words every day since. It sucks, of course, but I’m learning not to let that bother me. I’ve done this before and I know it’ll get better once I get my feet under me.

I’ve gotten some interesting writing-related emails in the last couple of weeks. A fellow from Australia wants to interview me for a podcast, and a guy from Milwaukee wants to make one of my stories into a student film. I’m willing to sell him the rights very cheap, for a limited period of time anyway, but I don’t want to do it without some kind of contract and I haven’t yet found a usable sample contract online. Any suggestions?

I’ve also been invited — nay, importuned — to be a guest at RadCon, so we’re going to that.

Not much else to report. Day job. Chores. Square dancing. Went to the Symphony. Didn’t go to the gym for almost two weeks, but clambered back on that horse too. You know — stuff.