Archive for July, 2009

A very nice weekend apart from the life-threatening medical crisis

Word count: 11182 | Since last entry: 1253

Spent the weekend in Seattle, visiting with our friend Janna. We had several very nice meals with her, including her birthday brunch with her friends Jack, Irene, and others. We had tons of fun playing with Sophie the new kitten and Spanky the not-so-new cat — it was like LoLCats Live! 24/7 and my jeans are covered with little kitten-claw snags — and although my allergies did act up it was never a serious problem. We attended the Clarion West party in honor of Elizabeth Bear at Mary Kay Kare’s; always nice to see Bear, however briefly, as well as many Seattleite friends (both old and new, permanent and temporary). We went to a steampunk swap meet where I scored a fabulous floor-length leather coat and we ran into several Seattle friends, followed by a fine lunch with Jerry and Suzle. We had a nice walk around Fremont and visited Cleopenguin in her new home. And we bopped down to Kent for an excellent Chinese dinner and a game of Apples to Apples with friends Hal and Ulrika.

But the main event of the weekend, and dominant emotional note, was Mark Bourne’s heart valve replacement. The plan was to hang out with Mark’s wife Elizabeth at the hospital on Friday and then attend the Clarion West party after Mark came out of the operating room.

It didn’t work out like that.

The operation went smoothly until they went to take Mark off the heart-lung machine and close him up, at which point his heart did not start up as it should have. Since then Mark’s situation has been a continuous medical crisis and a hell of waiting for those who love him. The details can be found in Elizabeth’s and Janna’s LiveJournals, but at last report his chest had still not been closed (they don’t want to do that until they are 100% sure everything is working properly in there) and he’s still in critical condition. The good news is that he’s been unconscious this whole time and when he wakes up he won’t remember any of this.

The model I’ve been using is that one’s social support system resembles the roots of a tree, with the weight traveling down the trunk and being spread out to successively smaller and more distant roots, putting less and less weight on each smaller root until it eventually vanishes into the ground. The weight of this crisis falls on Elizabeth, of course, and I think Janna’s in second position (she and Mark are Evil Twins and share a birthday, which happened to be the day of the surgery); I viewed my role as supporting them (especially Janna) with my physical presence, stupid attempts at levity and light conversation, and occasional errands. It didn’t feel like much but I hope it helped. I then turned around and depended on Kate and our Seattle friends, and so on. I thought I was handling it well until I showed up at the Clarion West party and EBear commented that I looked wrecked.

Anyway. Home now. Managed to write at least 500 words every day, if by “at least 500” you mean “well, anything more than 250 as long as it’s a good-faith effort”. Haven’t yet written today but there’s still an hour or two before bedtime; I expect to complete a first draft this week with a week to cut it back to 10,000 words before the next critique group deadline. All in all things are going well.

I’m still worried sick about Mark, of course, but I know that he’s in good health, is in one of the best cardiac units anywhere, and has the best circle of friends one could hope for.

Burning Skies today, driving to Seattle tomorrow

Word count: 9929 | Since last entry: 3176

Busy day today, ending with dinner with David J. Williams and Kamila Miller before David’s reading from his new book Burning Skies at Powell’s.

The writing is going well but will plainly blow way past my 10,000-word budget before I’m done. Could be as much as 15,000. As I said, I see some places to cut, and I think the exercise will also tighten and swiften (if that were a word) the story.

Heading for Seattle tomorrow, to hang out with Janna Silverstein and Mark and Elizabeth Bourne and attend the Clarion West party for Elizabeth Bear at Mary Kay Kare’s.

And that’s enough namedropping for one blog post.

Whiz, whiz go the days

Word count: 6753 | Since last entry: 6753

Fourth of July already!?

Went to the Iron Springs Writers Retreat on the Washington coast, where I was “writer guru” along with Jay Lake. Very strange for me to be Big Name Writer Guy. In addition to leading two critique sessions I also gave two informal talks, one on plotting and one on using sets and props to build character and display emotion. And of course there was much eating and chatting and walking on the beach (though my it was windy on that beach). Jay and I will be doing it again next year, though at a different location.

I also used the retreat to force myself to stop researching and start writing on my Wild Cards story. It worked. I wrote an outline and 1400 words of prose, and have continued to write 500-900 words per day since for a total of 6753 words so far. This is supposed to be a 10,000-word story and at this rate I expect the first draft to come in at about 12,000 words, but I can already see some places to make cuts.

Came home from Iron Springs to find a rejection in my email box from Catastrophia for the story I read at Wiscon. Darn it. Very encouraging rejection, though, and it’s already back in the mail. On the plus side, Space Magic is a finalist for the Endeavour Award and “Firewall” and “Sun Magic, Earth Magic” both got honorable mentions from Gardner Dozois in his Year’s Best SF. (Hmm… never noticed before that the titles of the latter story and my collection form an implied trilogy.)

Way too many of my friends have been in the hospital lately. M’s having a heart valve replaced, P shattered his humerus and collarbone while ice skating, D’s having a quadruple bypass, B was in a very serious car wreck, J’s got cancer, R has had two surgeries for a duodenal ulcer, E was hospitalized for exhaustion… It’s not even the usual “we’re all getting older” thing; every one of those people but R is younger than me. Stop it, y’all.

Yesterday, at Kate’s instigation, was a rock climbing party. Camille Alexa, Tina Connolly, Felicity Shoulders, and Camille’s and Tina’s partners joined us at a local rock gym for a laid-back “rock climbing for novices” evening. None of us had ever climbed before. Much fun and very impressed by everyone, especially Tina’s spider monkey clamber and Felicity’s patented “Falcon Girl” descents. I didn’t reach the top myself, but I did manage to go higher on each ascent. Afterwards: drinks and snacks at Doug Fir.

Leah Cutter is using the halfway point of the year to review her progress on her goals, which strikes me as a fine thing to do. My New Year’s Resolution was to celebrate the holidays with friends; I don’t think we did anything for the Vernal Equinox but we’ll be attending a potluck tonight for the Fourth of July. Other goals for the year are to write every day, exercise three times a week, watch what I eat, and keep the house clean and decluttered, and I’ve been doing quite well on those (except for the exercise, but I have been managing at least two sessions most weeks except when traveling). I’ve also sold two stories, which puts me on track for my usual four sales a year.

Looking into the future, I’ll be in Seattle July 9-11, visiting with Janna Silverstein and Mark and Elizabeth Bourne and attending Elizabeth Bear’s Clarion West party at Jordin and Mary Kay Kare’s. See some of you there!

Space Magic is an Endeavour Award finalist!!

Now it can be told: Space Magic, my first collection of short stories, is a finalist for the Endeavour Award!

The Endeavour is an award for a science fiction or fantasy book written by a Pacific Northwest author, and is presented each year at OryCon.

The other finalists for 2009 are Anathem by Neal Stephenson, Ill Met in the Arena by Dave Duncan, Long Walks, Last Flights and Other Stories by Ken Scholes, and A World Too Near: Book Two of the Entire and the Rose by Kay Kenyon. (Tough competition! It’s an honor just to be nominated.) The judges for this year, who will select the recipient from among the finalists, are Joe Haldeman, John Helfers, and Sarah Zettel.

If you do not yet own a copy of my newly-award-nominated book, you can correct that little problem at Wheatland Press. They’re even having a sale right now: buy two books, get one free!

Space Magic is also available in a limited hardcover edition of 100 copies, signed and numbered, exclusively from Wrigley-Cross Books.