Archive for February, 2011


Word count: 54798 | Since last entry: 2564

Today is my fiftieth birthday.

Spent the day at home, doing pleasant but ordinary things. Got a couple of nice presents, with one more on the way, and a call from my dad. Also, by coincidence, received some other good news, including a larger-than-expected check for the Italian translation of my Wild Cards story. In the evening we saw a fine documentary about cinematographer Jack Cardiff, followed by an excellent dinner at Nel Centro.

I’m okay with turning 50. I have been thinking lately about the benefits of maturity; I find that I am more likely to have the solutions to problems, or to have avoided the problem in the first place, which makes me calmer, happier, and more stable than I have ever been before. This has been a very good year so far and I have no reason to anticipate that the rest of the year will be any different. I have no money worries, I’m in excellent health, and I know that I am beloved.

I wish the same to all of my friends.

Radcon schedule

Word count: 52234 | Since last entry: 655

This coming weekend is Radcon, in Pasco, Washington, and I’ll be on the following program items:

Friday 2:00 pm, Executive: Interational Space Happenings
What is everyone else doing as far as satellites, space exploration, space stations and missions to other planets and moons?
Dubrick, Daniel; Levine, David; Nordley, Gerald David

Friday 4:00 pm, Emerald: The Urban Monster
A guide on how to blend in to the masses in this modern day and age. A must for monsters of all types.
Briggs, Patricia; Burk, Jim; Lake, Jay; Levine, David

Friday 5:00 pm, Silver Front: Charades
Last year we started with one audience member but by the end had filled the room. Join David Levine and Lizzy Shannon for an hour of hilarity.
Bonham, Maggie; Burk, Jim; Gregory, Roberta; Levine, David; Nagle, Pati; Ross, Deborah J.; Shannon, Lizzy

Saturday 1:00 pm, Garnet: The End of Manned Spaceflight in America?
With the current space policy, are we seeing America abandon manned space flight?
Dubrick, Daniel; Gregory, Hugh; Levine, David; Nordley, Gerald David

Saturday 3:00 pm, Sage: Steampunk Medicine
Many of the commonsense practices of today, such as requiring doctors to wash their hands between patients and general sanitation in the hospital, were “invented” in the Victorian era. Radical new ideas such as germ theory challenged the established ideas of miasmatic theory of disease. Come explore this period of change and innovation, the conflicts that erupted and how people such as Florence Nightingale and Dr. I gnaz Semmelweis changed the world.
Bruscas, Chris; Garrison, Miki; Hill, Laurel; Levine, David

Saturday 6:00 pm, Emerald: What Makes a Successful Critique Group?
One of the most helpful things in a writer’s toolbox can be other writers! A good critique group is a win-win situation in which all the participants become the best writers they can be. However, a bad critique group experience can be very discouraging, indeed. What makes a successful critique group?
Bolich, Sue; Held, Rhiannon; Lake, Jay; Levine, David; Silverstein, Janna

Sunday 10:00 am, Bronze: The Formidable Woman
What makes a formidable woman character formidable? What makes a woman character a woman? Can a man write an accurate woman character?
Alexander, Alma; Briggs, Patricia; Cherryh, CJ; engh, MJ; Kenyon, Kay; Lake, Jay; Levine, David

Writing update

Word count: 51579 | Since last entry: 2272

Not much to blog about recently. Mostly I’ve been plugging away on the YA novel. I just passed 50,000 words, with a target of 70,000, so I should be done with the first draft by the end of the quarter, as scheduled. I’m not entirely happy with it, but I hope I will be able to fix the problems I see myself putting in when I revise it.

While I’m chugging away here, my previously published stuff is making good progress:

Mars-500 heading for “landing” on “Mars”

Word count: 49307 | Since last entry: 1936

As you may recall, my MDRS-88 crewmate Diego Urbina was selected to participate in the Mars-500 project, a full 520-day simulated voyage to Mars and back. He and five other guys have been locked in a tin can in Moscow for 250 days now, and their simulated spacecraft is now in simulated orbit around simulated Mars. They have just docked with the landing module, which was sent ahead and has been waiting for them in Martian orbit full of supplies they will use on the long trip back. In a few days, Diego and two of his crewmates will undock and descend to the Martian surface for ten days of Mars exploration.

I’ve been following Diego on Twitter and the following series of tweets was just so lovely I had to share it:

still moving stuff to the martian module, getting ready to start the hard orthostatic intollerance test

it simulates what happens when you transition from 0g to martian gravity

last night was the last one in the orbital module, tonight I’ll start sleeping with head down @ 12 deg

and wearing in the day pants that confine blood to the upper body, 3 days later I remove the pants and see what funky things happen

oh but let me tell you more about an orthostatic intollerance test in the words of the expert in charge:

“Orthostatic test can be accompanied by deterioration of state of health, occurrence of weakness, dizziness…”

“…a short breath, a nausea, sweating and, as a last resort, development of an unconscious condition”

people in the street just call it “falling in love”

Also, here’s a cool five-minute video from the ESA about Mars-500 and its current status.

Workshop application season

Word count: 47371 | Since last entry: 4880

As you may know, I’m a big fan of writers’ workshops. Workshops are a great way to find the weak spots in your writing, hone your critical eye, learn techniques, and make contacts (and friends) in the field. And now is the time to apply for this year’s major workshops.

Clarion West is a six-week intensive “boot camp for writers” in Seattle, June 19 through July 29, 2011. I am a Clarion West alum and I found it almost overwhelming but incredibly valuable. This year’s instructors are Paul Park, Nancy Kress, Margo Lanagan, Minister Faust, L. Timmel Duchamp, and Charles Stross, and the deadline for application is March 1. If you apply before February 10 there’s a discount on the application fee. You can read about my Clarion West experience over here.

Clarion is the spiritual predecessor of Clarion West and offers the same six-week intensive experience, June 26 to August 6, 2011. Sometimes known as Clarion Classic or Clarion East, it’s moved around over the years and is now located in San Diego. This year’s instructors are Nina Kiriki Hoffman, John Scalzi, Elizabeth Bear, David Anthony Durham, John Kessel, and Kij Johnson, and the deadline for application is March 1.

Taos Toolbos is a two-week master class for more experienced writers and is focused on the craft of the novel. It’s held in a ski lodge in Taos Ski Valley, July 10-23, 2011, and this year’s instructors are Walter Jon Williams, Nancy Kress, and Jack Skillingstead. I went to Taos Toolbox in 2008 and you can read my blogs about it over here.

Cascade Writers is a three-day workshop held at the Ocean Crest Resort on the Washington coast, July 21-24th. This year’s instructors are Beth Meacham, Jay Lake, and me! The deadline for application is May 15.

The Alpha SF/F/H Workshop for Young Writers is a ten-day workshop for writers ages 14-19, held at the University of Pittsburgh’s Greensburg Campus. This year’s instructors include Ellen Kushner, Tamora Pierce, and me! Plus others to be named later. The deadline for application is March 1. For more information, check out Ellen Kushner’s post and be sure to read the comments!

These aren’t the only workshops in existence, of course, but they’re the ones that have a special place in my heart for one reason or another.

If none of these work for you, check with your local or regional science fiction convention. Many of them have short (one day or less) workshops as part of their program. I will be leading workshop sections at Potlatch and FOGcon, and probably at Wiscon, Renovation (Worldcon), and OryCon as well.