Archive for February, 2007

2/27/07: Lo, I am mighty

Word count: 19855 | Since last entry: 784

Writing at the coffee shop tonight, first time in months. Engaged in naughty writerly gossip, but did not succumb to peer pressure and accompany Jay and Karen to the bar, staying behind to keep butt in chair and hands on keyboard. Finished chapter 3. Go me.

A snippet:

“I’m afraid something’s come up,” Gideon’s voice replied. “With the aliens.”

A harsh jolt straightened Rachel’s spine. “What’s wrong?” When she’d left the alien ship a few hours ago it had seemed that everything was clear. They would be permitted to move to a closer orbit, nearby some other alien ships, as long as they agreed to subject themselves to an inspection for weapons. Since they had none, this was no barrier. But even after days of negotiations, hours spent training and tuning the translation software, and restating every point five different ways, her deepest fear was that something important had been lost in the gulf of interspecies communication.

“Nothing’s wrong with the negotiations,” Gideon clarified. “But… well, I think you should hear this in person.”

Rachel swallowed. “I’ll be right there.”

Also, today’s mail brought my author copy of the Spring 2007 issue of Robot, with the Italian translation of “Tk’Tk’Tk.” The coolest thing about these foreign translations is that most of them have interior illos. Most US magazines don’t have interior illustrations any more, and it is very very cool to see all the different artists’ interpretations of my story. (Photos coming soon.)

Finally, the first issue of the new online SF magazine Darker Matter is now available, with my story “Babel Probe”. You can read it now, for free!

2/26/07: I’m back. Sort of.

Word count: 19071 | Since last entry: 308

I have never been so jetlagged before in my entire life. Nearly a solid week of fogginess, bleariness, incoherency, and bone-cracking yawns. Some nights I fell over at 9 and slept heavily for ten hours. Other nights I lay awake staring at the ceiling for I don’t know how long. I finally returned to a semblance of coherency this weekend, and kept very busy with various missed chores. Still very very far behind on all of them.

One thing I did this weekend was to go to the gym, for the first time in nearly three weeks. Now, although I’m less tired, I ache.

Tonight, for the first time since before the trip, I wrote. Yay me.

Another rejection today. Now I have three stories that need to go back in the mail. Bleah.

Going to bed now…

2/19/07: Return to the West

Word count: 18763 | Since last entry: 0

Back in one piece from Thailand, but very very jetlagged. Nothing worthwhile accomplished today.

The mail received while we were gone included:

  • Copies of the April 2006 issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction, including my story “Titanium Mike Saves the Day”
  • Copies of the March 2006 issue of Portti Science Fiction, including the Finnish translation of “Tk’Tk’Tk.” I got my name first on the cover and a great interior illo, in color no less. Also in the package was my check for the translation, which seems to be typical for foreign sales.
  • An offprint from the Czech translation of “Tale of the Golden Eagle” from the February 2006 issue of the Czech edition of Fantasy & Science Fiction.
  • No acceptances or rejections. However, I did receive two rejections by email.

I did not do any writing or critiquing, and not much reading, on the trip. We were, as Kate says, on vacation. Despite which, we were extremely busy. Detailed trip report is definitely forthcoming, but format and distribution mechanism are an open question.

2/9/07: T minus one

Word count: 18763 | Since last entry: 998

Last work day for a while today. In the afternoon, as I found myself considering various tasks through the lens of “can I finish this today?” and spending the last hour of the day shutting everything down and making ready for a long absence (not all that long, really, only a week and a bit) I would describe my attitude as… detached.

I’m a bit nervous about the trip, actually — worried about my health and Kate’s, and concerned because I have never before traveled to someplace where I had so little comprehension of the local culture and language. The sheer magnitude of the voyage — a full twenty-four heartbeat hours of travel each way — is also daunting. I have never in my life traveled so far from home. (Frankly, it’s not possible to get much farther from home without leaving the planet.) But that very alienness and distance guarantees a unique experience. It’s going to be a heck of a ride.

There may be wi-fi, here and there, but I don’t expect to blog until I return. I’ll try to take pictures and keep a diary, but knowing me I’m not making any guarantees. The experience is the point, not the record of the experience.

Any feelings of foreboding I have were not ameliorated by the movie we went to see tonight, Children of Men. A brilliant movie, a spectacular tour-de-force of worldbuilding and violence. Coming home from that movie I flinched at a car coming out of a side road, and I had to remind myself aloud that I was in the real world, where most people are friendly and want to help us. When we got home we made hot chocolate to remind ourselves that our real lives are rich and sweet.

I’ve spent the last couple of evenings packing rather than writing. I’m not quite finished packing, but I’m going to bed now. We leave tomorrow mid-day, and arrive in Singapore on Monday.

One last thing before I go: There’s an interview with me on the Sci-Phi Show podcast ( You can find it at I’ve only listened to half of it, but it sounds really good! I’m all, like, professional or something.

Take good care of the place while I’m gone, and I’ll see you in a week.

2/4/07: Soldiering on

Word count: 17765 | Since last entry: 1159

First, a public service announcement: the deadline for the Potlatch 16 Writers’ Workshop has been extended to February 9. Manuscripts must be received by then. Pros for the workshop include Mary Rosenblum, Jay Lake, L. Timmel Duchamp, and Dave Goldman.

Had a delightful lunch today at the home of Mary Robinette Koval, with Jay Lake and others, welcoming a new writer to town. Excellent conversation and wonderful food. Too bad Mary’s moving to New York soon. Several people threatened to steal her distributor cap or otherwise make it impossible for her to leave.

I haven’t posted lately because I don’t feel I have a lot of progress to report. I’ve been writing 100-200 words a day and it feels like work… though I see from the total above that even a couple hundred words a day does add up if you just keep plugging away at it. I’ll be taking the train to work tomorrow and that generaly allows me to produce a goodly quantity.

As to the quality of those words… I feel that they’re terribly flat and stale. Things are happening, and I think that at least one of my two protagonists is definitely acting in a protagonisty fashion (in my novels, at least, my primary flaw is protagonists who are too passive and reactive), but I’m unhappy with the quality of the prose. On the other hand, when I read over chapters 1-2 before sending them for critique they didn’t seem all that bad. I am certainly too close to the work to make an unbiased judgement.

A snippet:

Rachel had brought two folding chairs and a small table into the alien ship, and she sat with the tablet in front of her. She and the aliens communicated through a combination of speech and touching pictures on the tablet. The aliens’ language was a series of growls, ticks, hisses, and purrs that the tablet translated into English in a genderless voice with an awkward, jerky intonation. Everything the tablet said sounded hesitant. Rachel wondered what her own translated words sounded like to the aliens.

“We have no intention of harming the singularity,” she said for the dozenth time in as many different ways. A moment later, the tablet purred and spat out something she hoped meant the same thing. “I don’t think it’s even possible for us to damage it.”

The one called Kurrth, or something like that, growled a reply. “You, must remain, at least four, thousand eight hundred twenty, light-seconds? distant, from, the singularity,” the tablet said. The distance was probably a nice round number in the alien’s measurement system.

Other writing news: I just sold science fiction story “Babel Probe” to the brand new online science fiction magazine Darker Matter. It’ll be in the first issue, which is scheduled for March 1. This story has been kicking around for a long, long time (I wrote the first draft in 24 hours, based on characters and a situation generated at random, as a pre-Clarion challenge) and I’m pleased that it’s finally found a home.

The other day we had the furnace guy in for Ferman’s annual checkup. Kate says that when he came in the house he stopped dead as soon as he saw the Hugo. “Do you read science fiction?” she asked. “Does a carnivore… never mind,” he replied. They talked about SF the whole rest of the time he was there.

Much of my non-work, non-writing time has been taken up by computer maintenance stuff. I replaced the cheap piece of crap wireless access point provided by my ISP with a Ruckus MediaFlex router which has a cool skiffy blinking dome on top and seems to be successful at resisting the interference that brought the old AP to its knees. Unfortunately, networking is a black art and the replacement took nearly an entire day before everything was working the way I wanted. And the printer for which I just bought sixty bucks of ink cartridges has started acting up — it’s seven years old and it goes off to la-la land after printing each page. I suspect the paper handling mechanism has just worn out and there may be nothing to do but replace it.

Apart from the writing, I need to focus on getting ready for the trip to Singapore and Thailand — we leave in less than a week. We just found out about Singapore’s Tiger Balm Gardens and it sounds like something I want to see. But for now, what I need to do to get ready for the trip is go to bed.