Archive for December, 2007

12/1/07: If you wanna end the war and stuff, you gotta sing loud

Word count: 71704 | Since last entry: 5586

Well. It’s been three weeks since I’ve had a proper blog entry. Sorry about that.

It’s been a busy few weeks. As an example of those Telling Details they’re always telling us to put in, either “Pack” or “Unpack” has been on my to-do list nearly continuously during this time. Which means that I’ve either been just about to travel somewhere, just back from somewhere, or too busy (or lazy) to unpack the bag that’s sitting in the middle of the living room.

I participated in a multi-author SF/Fantasy event at Powell’s in Beaverton. It was apparently a success. I had a large pile of the current Year’s Best Science Fiction and a very small pile of every other anthology this store had in stock with one of my stories. I managed to sell one or two YBSFs and all but one of the other anthologies. Also spent the evening hanging out with the other writers and playing with the pencils on the bench there, so it was a win all around.

I was a very busy boy at Orycon, between panels and workshops and dinners with friends. At the writers’ workshop, the other pro and I found ourselves with a bit of time to discuss the manuscripts before the workshoppers arrived. One of the stories had a blind protagonist, and both of us thought that she was shown doing things that no blind person would actually be able to do and found her generally unconvincing. And then the workshopper came in and sat down, with the seeing eye dog she sat down… the moral of the story is that there’s a difference between factually correct and believable.

I was on a lot of panels, which occupied most of the convention, but I didn’t mind because they were all very good panels and I feel I owe my hometown convention a lot. I had about a dozen people for my reading, and I was told several times that I moderate well. I also spent most of Friday evening at the RadCon party (on the bed), because I will be Short Story Guest of Honor at RadCon in February, about which I am right chuffed. Orycon got a very nice article in the Oregonian, in which I had the honor of being mentioned in the same paragraph as Ursula K. Le Guin and Kate Wilhelm.

The best thing that happened at the con was learning that I have sold a collection of 15 of my previously-published short stories to Wheatland Press. A pre-publication edition should be available at RadCon, with the real edition available at WisCon. A whole book all to myself! I am most pleased. We are in discussions about title, cover, and introduction and I hope to have very exciting news on all these fronts shortly.

Right after the con we discussed The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett at our neighborhood book group. This first Discworld book is rather disjointed and episodic, and the characters are largely cruel and unsympathetic — it doesn’t reflect the later magnificence of Pratchett. But all of the seeds of what Discwould would eventually become are here, from Unseen University and the Librarian to Death and, of course, The Luggage. An interesting historical note.

We played host to our friend Lise from New York for several days after the con, then drove up to Vancouver BC for the annual Thanksgiving square dance. On the way we stopped in Seattle, at the home of Kate’s sister Sue, where we had a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat and didn’t get up until the next morning when we all had to drive to Canada.

We managed to get past an accident at Mount Vernon that blocked all lanes of I-5 (yay Google Maps!), but then at the border we waited for two hours in a crowd of Canadians coming back from the day-after-Thanksgiving sales, flexing their Strong Canadian Dollars and kicking sand in the faces of ninety-eight-cent weaklings. All in all it took nearly an entire day to drive the 120 miles from Seattle to Vancouver, but the fly-in was tons of fun. As usual, we enjoyed the hospitality of Will Martin, the calling of Anne Uebelacker and Grant Ito, and another Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat.

After returning from Thanksgiving I focused my attention on my writing, shamefully neglected during the previous two weeks. I managed to pound out over 2500 words yesterday, by dint of working diligently (though not continuously) from 10am to 1am, and finished chapter 10 of my second novel in time for today’s critique group meeting. 2500 words in one day might be a record for me. I don’t understand how some people are capable of 5,000-word or even 12,000-word days. Part of this is almost certainly because I edit as I go and my first drafts are in publishable shape (in terms of words, sentences, and general coherency, anyway… the story always benefits substantially from critique, and often changes dramatically before it is ready for submission). I sometimes wish I had a different process, but this seems to be the way I work.

In other writing news, Issue 12 of the e-zine Aeon Speculative Fiction, containing my rather short story “Moonlight on the Carpet” and over a hundred pages of other fine stories, is now available for purchase in Microsoft Reader (.LIT) format. Other formats will be available soon. And I received the contracts for another sale to Aeon, novelette “The True Story of Merganther’s Run,” along with the pleasant surprise that Aeon has doubled its pay rate from 3 to 6 cents per word. That story is tentatively scheduled for Aeon 15 (August 2008).

During this time we also spent a lot of time and emotional energy on our friend M, who had to go into the hospital with (still undiagnosed at this writing) serious problems with vision, balance, and cognition. Special thanks to Robin Catesby for taking care of M’s dog for most of two weeks. He is supposed to return home on Sunday, which will be a big improvement even though we all know this story is far from over.

And that was November.