Archive for November, 2007

11/11/07: Wordstock

Word count: 66118 | Since last entry: 445

Back on the novel chain gang, with 445 words on chapter 10. It’s not exactly NaNoWriMo speed, but it’s not too shabby. I’ll have to keep up this pace or more on my writing days to make my next (self-imposed) deadline, given the fact that OryCon and Thanksgiving both fall between now and then.

The short story ended up at 6300 words, which means I wrote 2500 words on Friday, which is huge for me. I’m quite pleased with how it turned out. Unfortunately, this market has a hard limit of 5000 words and I did not have time for an editing pass before sending the story to critique. It will probably be easier to edit it down after it’s been critiqued (and has lain fallow for three weeks) anyway. I think there’s a certain amount of repetition, duplication, redundancy, and redundancy that can be trimmed, but it might take a bit more than that to get it down to 5000 words. Whatever. I’ve done this before and I know I can do it again.

Spent much of this weekend at Wordstock, Portland’s annual “festival of the book.” Attended many readings, some by people you might have heard of, such as Patrick McManus (Never Sniff a Gift Fish) and Peter Sagal (public radio’s Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me). All the readings I went to were entertaining, especially the one by Ann Marie Fleming (The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam). Between readings, browsed the booths from local presses (and some not so local), writers’ organizations, and bookstores. This year’s Wordstock, the third, didn’t seem as well organized and didn’t have as many big names as previous years, but it wound up being more fun than I’d thought it would be.

I love this town.

11/9/07: Back from New York, mostly

Word count: 65673 | Since last entry: 0

No novel work this week, but I’ve been powering away at a new short story — 3800 words so far, limit is 5000, first draft will probably come in about 6500. I really want to get this one done by Saturday; it’ll be a near thing.

The cold I had last week is still hanging on a bit, no doubt because I took such good care of myself at World Fantasy (cough). Kate’s also draggy, coughy, and phlegmy. Between the two I have not exactly been leaping out of bed in the morning, sometimes schlumpfing about in my bathrobe until as late as noon. I don’t want this to become a regular thing.

A few missed notes from World Fantasy: thanks to Dierdre S. Moen for consultation on this story, wowzers to Deanna Hoak for showing up in a phenomenal dress that showed off all her chakras, and nods to new pal Todd Lockwood. I met Todd at O’Hare on the way to the con, where we comisserated on the almost complete absence of publicly-accessible power outlets. Then we kept passing each other in the hall at the con, giving each other the same “I know that guy, but where from?” look but never really intersecting. And then we wound up on the same flight back to O’Hare on Monday, where we had a very nice chat in the departure lounge. Turns out he’s next year’s WFC artist guest of honor! Small world.

We’ve seen Blade Runner: The Final Cut and a play called The Underpants in the last couple of days. You wouldn’t think that Blade Runner really needed yet another cut, and yet this one is just marvelous. The changes are numerous but subtle, including replacing the obvious stunt double with Joanna Cassidy’s actual face and fixing the mouth movements in the scene where Decker assaults the Egyptian so they match the dialog. It all adds up to an improvement you can feel, but not actually see. This 25-year-old SF movie holds up astonishingly well. The Underpants, written by Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin) based on a German play from 1911, wasn’t nearly as memorable. Despite some fine performances, the whole thing was weighed down by over-broad comedy and a lack of surprises.

Remember that community college class that was studying “I Hold My Father’s Paws”? I can’t link to the class discussion, because it’s password-protected, but the instructor’s lecture on “Paws” and “The Best Christmas Ever” by James Patrick Kelly is publicly available in text and audio format. I’m just flabberghasted. I didn’t put any of that stuff in on purpose, but all of those cultural and historical references are entirely valid and I can believe that I had many or all of them in mind at a subconscious level. It’s great to get such a thoughtful outside perspective on my own writing process.

One last reminder: I will be participating in a “Local/NW Sci-Fi Authorfest” with 13 other authors at Powell’s Cedar Hills next Wednesday, November 14, at 7pm. Hope to see some of you there!

11/5/07: World Fantasy, day 4

Word count: 65673 | Since last entry: 0

Despite the time change and the fact that I had set my alarm clock but failed to turn the alarm on, got to the con just in time to rendezvous with Elizabeth Bear, Sarah Monette, and, um, two others for breakfast as planned. Marvelous conversation over a couple of Swedish oatmeal pancakes with real maple syrup.

Got back to the con around 10:30 and kicked around, mostly in the dealers’ room, talking with various folks (including Sharyn November, Laura Anne Gilman, and Gordon van Gelder) until the banquet at 1pm. I wound up at a table with K. Tempest Bradford, Steve Nagy, Jim Minz, and World Fantasy Award judges Jeremy Lassen, Gavin Grant, and Carsten Polzin. We discussed the judging process, and many other things, over a nice salmon dinner. Master of Ceremonies Guy Gavriel Kay led off with a heartfelt memorial to Robert Jordan, then lightened things up with a long fairy tale in which the names and/or titles all of the nominees were embedded as puns and the big bad Gary K. Wolfe had a speaking part. The awards ceremony itself was straightforward and ended exactly on time; results are posted elsewhere.

Hung around the lobby for a few hours, chatting with the departing multitude, until Mark Rich (a writer and toy enthusiast from Wisconsin whom I knew slightly from previous cons) invited me to dinner along with his partner Margaret Borchart, Locus photographer Beth Gwinn, and Locus webmaster Mark Kelly. We went across the street to a delightful little Italian restaurant crammed with WFC people, where my “personal” pizza proved to be big enough for tomorrow’s breakfast as well (Italian Cheese Toast, a guilty pleasure).

Very quiet back at the con, as the few remaining people filtered back from dinner. I wound up having a long chat with Ellen Klages in which she cheered me up, as she often does, by reminding me how many wonderful things I have in my life even though I don’t have a published novel. “Best outcome,” she said, meaning (I think) that if you don’t fix your intention on a specific wished-for outcome and remain open to possibilities, the universe will bring you the best outcome (not necessarily what you thought you wanted).

Just then a crowd of Tor people, including Teresa Neilsen Hayden whom I had not even known was at the con, returned from dinner and headed into the bar. I finished up my talk with Ellen and followed them in… and I realized I really needed to go back to my room, pack, and fall over. So I said my goodbyes and left while some dogs yet barked.

Long day tomorrow. It’ll be good to be home.

11/4/07: World Fantasy, day 3

Word count: 65673 | Since last entry: 0

After last night’s hilarity, didn’t manage to get up and dressed until lunchtime. Rather than breakfasting alone as I have been doing, I decided to go to the convention and maybe find someone to lunch with (but I’m not dumb — I set a firm deadline of 1pm or I would eat alone rather than getting stupider and stupider). It was pretty cold this morning so I decided to take my car rather than make the 10-15 minute walk to the convention center.

At the con I didn’t see anyone I knew until I ran into Jay Lake by the Night Shade table in the dealers’ room. He and I and his Adrian wound up at an extremely plain-spoken diner, where despite the place’s complete lack of character we heard words like “counterfactual” drifting across the divider from the diners on the other side. It was Gordon van Gelder and Jacob Weisman. Walking back from lunch, we ran into many other people from the convention including Esther Friesner.

Got back to the con and hung my coat in the coat room. Because I had been walking to the con every day so far, I wrote DON’T FORGET YOUR CAR on a business card and stuck it in my hatband. (It worked.)

By this time it was just at the end of the Shimmer reading, but I headed up to that room anyway in hopes of spotting Mary Robinette Kowal. I did spot her, but only just, as the Shimmer crew were just clearing away in favor of the Inferno anthology reading, edited and introduced by Ellen Kushner. Elizabeth Bear was among those reading so I hung around for that. And she was also reading in the following hour, with the Waste Lands anthology edited and introduced by John Joseph Adams. Lots of good stories in those two anthologies.

I’d been planning to go to Ellen Klages’s reading at 4pm, but by then I was pretty much reading-ed out so I headed for a panel. But on the way there I was dragooned by Diana Sherman to go into the dealers’ room and look at shinies. This reminded me that I already had a Laurie Edison earring, which I’d forgotten I had with me, so I put it on. While waiting for Diana to decide whether or not to buy a necklace I struck up a conversation with her friend David J. Williams, who had managed to avoid being lynched by the Clarion West class of 2006 despite the fact that he sold three novels to Bantam in the first week of the workshop (the first one comes out in May). Nice guy!

After the orgy of jewelry-buying concluded (well, okay, maybe just a tryst), Diana, David, and I set off in search of dinner. But on the way out of the hotel we encountered J.J. Adams, Jennifer Jackson, and others on their way to the Orbit party at a nearby pub. It turned out to be an invite-only party, but we were allowed in anyway. Loud loud loud, but free drinks, snacks, and books, so we hung out until they started clearing people out for the dinner crowd. We wound up adding two other people (um, wow,it was only a couple hours ago but the names have already fled) for dinner at some nearby Indian place. Turns out all five of us were Clarion grads, ranging from 1988 to 2006.

Back to the con. I meant to go up to the Tor party but my throat rebelled at the thought of coping with the noise. I’m also having more problems than usual hearing in those crowds — maybe my ears are stuffed. Anyway, I spent the rest of the evening hanging out on the ground level of the hotel, drifting from the green room where I chatted with Davey Snyder and others, to the lobby where I hung out with Pat Rothfuss and new friend Tiffany Trent and saw Tina Connolly for the first time this con, to the bar (and the emergency overflow bar that the hotel cleverly set up nearby) where I was offered single malt by Laura Anne Gilman, which I accepted, and a seat by Ellen Klages, which I declined. Long con, tired now.

Got back to my room and changed the clocks, after which I could say I left the con before midnight. (But then I blew it by staying up to write this.)

11/3/07: World Fantasy, day 2

Word count: 65673 | Since last entry: 0

Up at the crack of noon, just in time for a crepe place called Ravenous to open for lunch. Had a lovely ratatouille crepe. I decided last week that I was going to try to eat properly even on the road. Doing pretty well with it so far.

Saratoga Springs is doing one of those charity events where they give large animal sculptures (cows, pigs, etc.) to artists, who paint and decorate them and then let them stand around town for a while before auctioning them off. In Saratoga’s case the animals are horses. I hadn’t quite realized as I was planning this trip that this Saratoga is the same Saratoga of racetrack fame. Every time I see one of those horses I get the song snippet “…and we get off at Saratoga, for the fourteenth time!” going through my head. I mentioned this to Gardner Dozois and of course this resulted in a quick impromptu chorus of same. Other people have given me nothing but blank looks. Some People are clearly lacking in cultural literacy.

Made it to the con after lunch to run into Diana Sherman, just on her way out (we’ve had beastly meal timing, but hope to manage dinner tonight), Ellen Klages, mostly undamaged from yesterday’s fall to the marble floor, and Lisa Freitag who was chuffed that many of her photos from Japan were in the November Locus, including one of Kate and I at the Kamakura Big Buddha. While I was talking with Lisa and Alice Bentley, Ellen Klages came up and dragged me off to Margo Lanagan‘s reading. She read a short horror story about Wee Willie Winkie, which was awesome although I kept thinking of Bullwinkle.

After Margo’s reading I caught the second half of a panel on the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series, including Betty Ballantine and Tom Doherty. Alas, by the time I arrived it had devolved into a rant on the sad state of book distribution today. Next I went to a panel about book covers… which devolved into a rant on the sad state of book distribution today. But the next panel in the same room was a talk and presentation by the French artist Jean Giraud (Moebius), which was delightful. Although I winced with pain as his wife tried to use PowerPoint to present his slides, moving the various Microsoft pallettes and sub-windows around on the screen in Edit mode to try to show off the art instead of just clicking “Slide Show”. I was tempted to run down to the front of the room and click on it for her, but I restrained myself. Maybe I shouldn’t have.

I cruised the art show for a while, then attended an entertaining reading by Scott Lynch, after which I tried to go to Jay Lake’s impromptu cheese party. But apparently I missed a memo and went to one of the places it was going to be instead of the place it actually was. Had some nice conversations in the hall outside the dealers’ room anyway, then went off for an early dinner with Davey Snyder and other East Coasters at the hotel’s fancy restaurant. Very fine company, very fine service, very fine food, possibly not worth quite what they charged for it.

Next came the big autograph session, 1400 people in a large ballroom with linoleum floors and hard walls. Jeez, it was noisy in there. I think that’s where I lost the first third of my voice. I was offered a table tent but declined, figuring that no one was likely to ask for my autograph (it would be different if I had a book with my name on the cover) and I’d see more people by wandering around rather than sitting in one place. I got a bit melancholy seeing all of my friends with published novels. Perhaps I will sell one some day. Must write more.

The autographs were supposed to run from 8pm to 11pm, but Elizabeth Bear, Sarah Monette, Elise the lioness, and I, along with several unindicted co-conspirators, ran off to Bear’s room for BPAL sniffing and traumatic readings of the sex scenes from a bad Scottish time-travel romance, all fueled by generous quantities of Chartreuse (dangerous stuff… 55% alcohol, most of the rest sugar). Every anachronism was greeted with a chorus of “…in sixteenth-century Scotland?! DRINK!” I demonstrated that, yes, some men do have “silky chest hair,” and many were the LOLcat references and snorts of derision that came from the shrubbery. I left another third of my voice around there somewhere, we made Sarah fall off the bed, and I think we might have broken Elise. And yet the New York Times Best-Selling Author probably made more from that one book than all of us put togithir.

Try that with a sporran full of coffee beans.

Nearly noon. Time for breakfast.

11/2/07: World Fantasy, day 1

Word count: 65673 | Since last entry: 0

Amazingly smooth travel. On both legs of my flight the plane was half full, took off right on time, and landed early! Picked up my rental car (PT Cruiser) in Albany and had no difficulty finding my hotel in Saratoga Springs. The hotel looked to be miles from the convention on the map, but it’s actually only 10-15 minutes’ walk.

Saratoga Springs reminds me of Ashland, especially in that it has a very high quotient of good restaurants and fine shops for its population. Had breakfast at Beverly’s and dinner at Hattie’s (the latter with Peggy Rae Sapienza and a bunch of her DC peeps) on the recommendation of, both were wonderful. The fried chicken at Hattie’s is particularly recommended.

The convention started at 3pm today but when I showed up right after breakfast (at, um, 11am) there were already plenty of people hanging out, including Ken Scholes, Sarah Monette, and of course the ubiquitious Jay Lake. Later I ran into Elizabeth Bear and WotF compadres Jae Brim and Patrick Rothfuss. Dozens of others too, whose LJ handles are too large for this margin to accomodate. I also met Ellen Klages, who immediately jumped in my arms and sent both of us crashing to the hard slick marble floor. Ow. Haven’t seen her since.

My reading this afternoon (“Charlie the Purple Giraffe”) went very well; about a dozen people showed up even though a lot of my friends were all off at dinner with their agents or editors. Apart from that I have seen neither programming nor parties, instead spending my time in the bar and lobby area. Perhaps I will so something else tomorrow, perhaps not. I seem to have an amazing ability to find the one spot at the convention where all my friends will pass, and not budging from that spot for literally hours at a time.

During dinner I got a call from Kate, who has had to cancel her trip to Guadalajara due to illness (hers). Crap. Drop by her LJ and bring her some chicken soup.

Jay and I decided to turn in early, realizing that we’re both tired (and my voice is threatening to leave me for someone who won’t abuse it so) and there is an entire normal convention (Friday-Sunday) yet to come. But when I got back to my room I had to check in with the class. (Oh wait, it appears that I have not mentioned that this week two online community college classes are studying my story “I Hold My Father’s Paws”, and I’ve been invited to participate in the class discussion. This is even cooler than I had thought it would be.) And then there was LJ to read and… look! It’s 1am!

Night night.