Archive for June, 2009

Kidnapping myself

Right. There’s only one way to stop myself from obsessively researching this story and force myself to begin drafting the damn thing. I am kidnapping myself and squirreling myself away in an undisclosed location without access to the Internet or any other research materials.

Well, not really. But almost.

The fact is that I am, along with Jay Lake, “Writer Guru” at the Iron Springs Writers’ Retreat on the Washington coast, which begins tomorrow. It should be a very cool weekend of hanging out with writers, critiquing, and writing. There is no Internet or cell phone service, so if you have anything I need to know before Sunday you’d better let me know now.

I mean to come home with at least 1500 words of draft on the new story.

In other news, the podcast of “I Hold My Father’s Paws” from Beam Me Up has been re-posted in their archive. And the oil tank in the back yard has been successfully decomissioned… turns out it was not leaking, which means it took only a half-day and less than $1000 to drain, fill with gravel, and bury for future archaeologists to puzzle over. (Whew.)

I also got a rejection on the alien pupa story, just to keep me humble after the Analog sale, and sent it off to the next market in line, which just happened to be Analog. Not really expecting lightning to strike twice, but one never know, do one?

“Teaching the Pig to Sing” sold to Analog

I am exceedingly proud to announce that I just sold short story “Teaching the Pig to Sing” to Analog, my first sale to that market. No idea when it will come out, though if I know anything about print magazine publishing it will probably not be until 2010 or maybe even 2011.

This story started as an idea I had for Federations, but December got kind of crazy and I didn’t even start writing it until after the deadline for that anthology. It evolved quite a bit in the process of drafting and editing, and I finally wound up taking out the alien federation altogether, leaving it as a character-focused story of Earth politics.

I’ve been sending stories to Stan Schmidt for over ten years now. Analog is the oldest continually-published SF magazine and has the largest circulation of any print SF magazine. I don’t know that this is particularly an “Analog story” but I guess Stan liked it.

Does one sale make me a member of the Analog Mafia?

In which I completely demolish my diet

Saw Up tonight, with square dance friends Bo and Don. Marvelous, as everyone has said, though I wish I hadn’t seen the trailer because it contained spoilers (mild though they were). We saw it at the newly-remodeled Roseway in glorious digital 3-D and I was amazed by the lifelike sharpness and clarity. Every Pixar film shows off a new technology (it was water in Finding Nemo, fur in Monsters Inc) and in Up I think it was clouds and lightning. Also, unlike Caroline, the 3-D added to the experience and was never egregious.

After the film we went out to the “cart pod” at 12th and Hawthorne for dinner. Portland is apparently an epicenter of food cart cuisine right now. The “hawker centers” were something I really loved about Singapore, and we really wanted to try this “cart pod,” which doesn’t open until 8pm and runs until 3am. For my main course I had poutine at Potato Champion, which wasn’t as good as the poutine we had at Frites Alors in Montreal (too much pepper in the gravy, I thought, though the base fries were quite nice). It did not come with a side of statins, though it should have. I considered destroying any remaining fragments of healthiness with a fried pie from Whiffie’s for dessert, but sanity prevailed and I just had a few bites of Kate’s chocolate-and-pear crepe from Perierra Creperie. The crepes were the real winner of the evening; several in the party had one and they were all fabulous. Will go again, I’m sure.

Tomorrow, we hit the gym first thing.

Buy my smut!

Circlet Press’s anthology Up for Grabs, including my humorous SF erotica short-short story “Fair Play,” is now available! It’s an ebook and you can buy it from as a PDF (currently on sale for only five bucks). Click the “More Details” link there for other ebook formats, including Kindle, epub, Palm, and HTML. Warning: explicit sexual content. (My story is sexual, but not as explicit as some of the others.)

This story was originally written as a “no exposition” exercise at Clarion West. I wrote eight stories at Clarion and so far four of them have sold, two are trunked, and two still await revision and submission.

Good news in the mail

Just back from Camille Alexa’s reading at Powell’s, which went smashingly. Lots of fine Portland writers at dinner beforehand as well.

I’ve had a number of nice things arrive in my mailbox recently: contract for the vampire story, galleys for the werewolf story, a nibble on film rights for one of my short stories (probably won’t come to anything, but it’s nice to be asked), and some other really good news that I’m not at liberty to share yet.

We’re having the oil tank in the back yard taken care of, finally — should have done it years ago, when we replaced the oil furnace with gas, but we’d just had the back yard landscaped and didn’t want to mess it up. But now that the Japanese maple’s been replaced by a pile of sawdust, it’s time to take action. Today we had soil samples taken; we won’t have results until tomorrow but the samples look and smell clean, indicating that the tank hasn’t leaked. No leakage means we’re looking at an $800 “drain the tank, fill it with gravel, and leave it there” job rather than the $5000-7000 “dig up and cart away half the back yard as toxic waste” job. So I’m cautiously optimistic on this.

Thoughts from yoga class

I’ve been doing yoga for about two years now. As with the square dancing, Kate did it for a while before I joined in. I’m often the only man in the class, which tends to make me feel like the character Stuart in Dykes to Watch Out For.

Yoga reminds me obscurely of when I was in college and taking Physics 101 and Calculus 101 at the same time. Physics, as you may know, uses a lot of calculus and I often found that I would encounter a calculus concept in physics class first. Because the physics gave me some real-world application for the math concept, and also because my physics prof was a much better teacher, I got a much better understanding of calculus from taking the two classes together than I would have from taking Calc 101 alone.

Yoga has the same kind of relationship with the stuff I’ve been doing with a series of trainers at the gym for… gosh, over ten years now. Both are concerned with strength, balance, stability, and especially core strength. Both spend a lot of time on proper posture and doing the moves in a way that won’t put undue strain on muscles, joints, or ligaments. But the yoga instructors (all the instructors at this studio are also physical therapists) give me a lot more of the theory, such as explaining why my tight hamstrings make my feet turn out. At the same time, my gym workouts give me practical applications for the yoga concepts.

I find that the time I’ve spent at the gym makes the yoga exercises easier, while my yoga classes make my gym workouts make more sense. It’s all one body.

State of the me

It’s been weeks and weeks since my last proper blog post. Sorry.

Attended Wiscon, which was tremendous fun as usual. I was moderator for a bunch of panels and I thought they all went well. There was one panel that had some uncomfortable follow-up online but the conversation remained civil and I think we all learned a lot from it.

As long as we were in Wisconsin we hung out with my parents for a few days, and also visited the Mitchell Domes (which always remind me of the film Silent Running), the Forevertron (an amazing collection of junk sculptures), and Ten Chimneys (the palatial home of famous actors Lunt and Fontanne — sadly, the day’s tours of the estate were sold out, but we had fun at the attached museum).

At the con I learned that I’d sold a story, “Family Matters,” to Esther Friesner for her as-yet-untitled anthology about vampires in suburbia. This story is the third in a series that begins with “Midnight at the Center Court” in Witch Way to the Mall, Esther’s anthology about witches in suburbia, which just hit the shelves. I also got some positive feedback from an editor about another story, but nothing definite yet.

Upon returning home from Wisconsin we both immediately came down with Con Crud, which wasn’t nearly as bad as last year’s norovirus but still laid Kate low for a week. I wasn’t hit as hard but I still found myself completely lacking in energy for a long time and I’m only now returning to full function.

Despite my illness, I gave an interview to local journalist T. K. Gilb which should appear as one or more articles on at some point in the future.

Kate and I ran the Great Urban Race, a kind of one-city mini-version of The Amazing Race. Challenges included locating the quote from Mae West on the “Walk of the Heroines” (never heard of it before), decoding a simple cipher and then taking a picture with eight other people at the specified location, and making a fish face at the famous giant salmon sculpture.

It was a fun day out, with a nice mix of intellectual puzzles and the physical challenge of getting around the city as quickly as possible, though having the Rose Parade at the same time meant that we did a lot more walking, rather than taking the bus or streetcar, than we might have otherwise. We completed all 12 clues without any errors, but our time of just over 3 hours put us in 168th place out of 233 teams (roughly equivalent to being eliminated in episode 3 or 4 of the 11-week Amazing Race). We’d hoped for better, but given that Kate was still coughing her lungs out I can’t say I’m too disappointed.

On the writing front… for the last several weeks I’ve been spending 100% of my writing time doing research for my Wild Cards story. Despite the fact that I’ve already taken over 20,000 words of notes (twice the projected length of the story!), I feel I still haven’t done enough research, and yet I’m also extremely frustrated with myself that I haven’t started actually writing yet. I’m sure that at least part of the reason I haven’t started is that I’m daunted by the challenge of writing in someone else’s universe, which I’ve never done before for money, and feeling enormous pressure to get it right. I should probably just bite the bullet and start drafting the damn thing. emails being rejected as spam/virus

It’s come to my attention that emails including URLs from (like the one in my standard email signature) are being treated as spam and/or viruses by some providers (notably GoDaddy). I’ve talked with my ISP and they say the problem is that “GoDaddy’s filters reject any messages containing an URL that resolves to an IP address in the PBL (a spam blacklist).” I believe that the problem IP address is with (my registrar and forwarder) rather than (my ISP).

I’m in the process of moving’s registration and forwarding from, whose customer support is worse than clueless, to my main ISP, which I hope will resolve the problem. It might take a few days for the change to propagate around the net. Until then, be aware that emails from me or Kate may be marked as spam or viruses, even though they’re no such thing.