September 19, 2014
This week I have been:
- Reading submissions for the FenCon writers workshop.
- Reading the first 35,000 words of a novel manuscript so I can start working on it again after leaving it alone for a month.
- Reading the revised version of my Wild Cards graphic novel script.
- Reading a meaty technical thing on prehistoric archeology in Britain in Ireland for this story I’m writing.
- Reading the books that are due back at the library in a week.
I feel like I’m back in grad school.
September 8, 2014
Usually I come back from long trips with a huge list of things to do. Sometimes I’ll even spend the return plane ride making that list. I didn’t do that this time. Sure, I had some things I needed to get done, a couple of deadlines. But no driving urgency to actually do them like I usually do. I still managed to have a pretty productive first week home, but I gotta tell you, it felt a little like swimming in molasses.
Yesterday I cleaned my desk a bit and discovered not just a to-do list, but an entire pile of to-do lists. Somehow, I had just been making lists of things and setting them aside. So I consolidated, and threw away a lot of little scraps of paper, which is very satisfying. And I now have an up-to-date to-do list that feels reasonable. I’m actually kind of excited. So yeah, I guess I can’t use “But I’m recovering from my trip” as an excuse anymore.
Things I’m doing: I’m running the workshop at FenCon in a couple of weeks and the stack of manuscripts I’m critiquing have arrived. I’m revising Now and Then, the graphic novel script I’m writing for Wild Cards. It’s challenging, mostly because I’m learning a lot about writing comic scripts. It’s kind of a steep learning curve and it’s using up a lot of brain power. But I think it’s going well. I’m also going over all the other projects I’ve got in progress and what needs my attention first.
I’m also making a secret cosplay outfit. I have a deadline for this, so I need to get moving on it. *rubs hands together gleefully*
I also wrote a short story last week. When I travel solo, I meet people, and one of the things that always happens is the “So, what do you do?” conversation. It’s an ice-breaker, and people usually like to talk about their jobs: nurse, teacher, engineer, banker, pastor, whatever. Then I say “writer” and people get really interested and fascinated. And someone always asks, “So have you been published? Do you actually make a living at that?” Which drives me a little batty because I’m thinking, I would not have told you this was my job if I was not making a living at it. This is one of the reasons I always carry business cards so I can pass them out and they can see the covers with “New York Times Bestseller” on it. Anyway. On the Northern Ireland tour people kept asking me, “Are you going to write about this? Are you going to put this in a story?” At the time I didn’t know. But I kept thinking about neolithic Ireland and the people who built the passage tombs and standing stones and what they must have been like, and what drove them. And so I wrote a story about them.
I am pleased with my story. I hope you’ll get to read it soon.
September 5, 2014
So Loncon — the London Worldcon — took place in the same venue as Olympic fencing in 2012. I thought that was pretty cool. Also, Doctor Who actors David Tennant and Peter Davison went to the Hugo awards. I did not, alas, so I can’t say I was in the same room as them.
This was my second Worldcon in another country, and I quite enjoy these, because the shape of the convention is familiar, but the content often isn’t. New artists, new writers, diverse accents, getting confused with the money, being wide-eyed and distracted.
The convention building was a kilometer long, reportedly. My hotel was at one end, the convention was at the other, so I did a lot of walking. Conventions always wear me out, but I spent this one in a bit of a daze, I’m afraid. There were shadows at this con: this was the first Worldcon without Jay Lake, and I kept looking for his shape in the crowd. Also, Iain Banks was meant to be Guest of Honor but he passed away last year. He’s one of my favorite writers and I never got to meet him. And I found out during the con that my brother’s family’s sweet dog Lucy had just died. All cancer. It’s crushing.
But there were friends everywhere to make things better, including several I’ve known since the year I went to school in York, and it was great catching up with them.
My trip had four phases: Loncon, visiting friends in Cambridge and York, Shamrokon in Dublin, and a Northern Ireland tour. Plus, as much touristy stuff as I could in between. It felt like I was gone a long time. But now, it all feels like it happened ages ago. Here are some highlights, in bullet points.
- After being out of touch for a time, I caught up with Shash, who was my best friend when I was at school in York. It was great.
- Steampunk exhibit at the Greenwich Royal Observatory FTW.
- Touristy things done in London: The Cabinet War Rooms (I kept thinking of Captain America) and Greenwich, which I probably could have spent more than a day at. So much to see, including at the Maritime Museum, the uniform coat Admiral Nelson was wearing when he was killed, with the bullet hole visible. Yikes.
- I was on the train, listening to Fairport Convention, when I got the sudden urge to compare and contrast the lyrics of “Hexamshire Lass” and “Kalamazoo.” How universal are upbeat songs about that small-town girl back home?
- Barley Hall in York — a recreation of a 15th century merchant’s house — is marvelous. I finally got to see it and was much inspired. Go see it if you can. Everyone should go see York, it’s a great town.
- Shamrokon: was fun because it was in a hotel and felt like every small regional convention I’ve ever been to. With about a dozen accents in hearing at any given moment.
- Dublin: I’d been to Dublin 20 years ago when I was in college but everything’s changed. So I went back and did some things I’d done before: the Book of Kells, and the National Museum, which were both great. I have a new appreciation for them after 15 years in the SCA.
- The Faddan More Psalter. Every now and then I’ll walk into a museum exhibit and have a religious experience, because I’m just so moved and awestruck. This is an 8th century manuscript that was dug up from a bog a few years ago. I saw the picture of what it looked like when it was found and wept. I can’t stop thinking about who made it, how it ended up buried — was it dropped? Abandoned? Stashed? What happened?!
- Newgrange also blew me away. I didn’t expect it to. On this trip I became rather obsessed with stone and bronze age Ireland. Everybody focuses on the Celts, but there were 3000 years of developed civilization on the island before the Celts came along. These are the guys who built Newgrange and thousands of other tombs and forts and standing stones and so on, and we know almost nothing about them. I’m fascinated.
- I didn’t go to Northern Ireland 20 years ago because of the Troubles. Then, I spent one night in Belfast, and the armored cars and soldiers scared me back to the youth hostel. This trip, I went north, and got confirmation from guides and others that staying out was probably a good call back then. But things are much better now, they really are. The flags and slogans and walls are still up. But the soldiers are gone. I had a really nice time.
- This last phase of the trip I was by myself, but part of an organized tour. I travel solo quite often, especially when my choices are travel solo, or not at all. Other folks on the tour kept telling me how brave I was, to travel alone. Which seems strange to me, because I’m not doing it to be brave. I’ve found the world to be a generally welcoming place. I pay attention, I stay as safe as I can. I see so much more than I ever would if I didn’t travel.
And that was most of my August.
August 20, 2014
Another weekend, another convention! I’m in Dublin this time. Wooooo! This time my touristy time is being spent visiting Newgrange. I’m very excited, and very excited to spend a weekend visiting with folks in Ireland. Woo!
Here’s my con schedule:
Cover Art, Writer Input or Lack Thereof, Friday 17:00 – 18:00, C. Munster (Double Tree by Hilton Dublin Burlington Road)
Peaceful Science Fiction, Saturday 15:00 – 16:00, D. Ulster (Double Tree by Hilton Dublin Burlington Road)
Steampunk Fact – Monorails!, Sunday 11:00 – 12:00, D. Ulster (Double Tree by Hilton Dublin Burlington Road)
Fiction – Beyond The Novel, Sunday 13:00 – 14:00, C. Munster (Double Tree by Hilton Dublin Burlington Road)
August 15, 2014
August 13, 2014
By the time you read this, I’ll be in London for Worldcon.
I’ve got a moderately busy schedule at the con. I was careful to make sure I had time for being touristy. I’m definitely going to hit the Greenwich Observatory, which I’ve never seen, and if I’m feeling ambitious I may try to go see the Victoria and Albert Museum, which I just love.
Weirdly, I’m on a bunch of movie panels. Which maybe isn’t so weird. I’m betting someone on programming is aware of my movie reviews. I really hope we talk about Snowpiercer on that first panel, because man, what a mess.
But here’s my schedule at the convention itself:
Occupy SF: Inequality on Screen, Thursday 15:00 – 16:30, Capital Suite 4 (ExCeL)
Reading: Carrie Vaughn, Thursday 20:00 – 20:30, London Suite 1 (ExCeL)
Moving Shelves: Famous Adult Writers Who Have Written YA, Saturday 11:00 – 12:00, Capital Suite 15 (ExCeL)
2014 Hugos: Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form (which should win?), Saturday 13:30 – 15:00, Capital Suite 16 (ExCeL)
You’ve Ruined It For Me (book to screen adaptations), Sunday 19:00 – 20:00, Capital Suite 3 (ExCeL)
July 28, 2014
If I had a nickle for every time someone asked me this weekend why I wasn’t at San Diego Comic Con… I would have a lot of nickles.
I suspect I’ll get back to SDCC at some point. I even missed it a little this year. But it’s seriously not a convention I can do every single year. It’s expensive (I’ve paid my own way there both times I’ve gone, my publisher or the convention didn’t), the logistics are nightmarish (even pro badges are limited these days and require applications and a little luck, and then there’s getting a decent hotel room), and it’s exhausting (so…much…walking). It’s especially exhausting for me because I’m not happy just doing my writer panels and signings and calling it a day. I also try to hit panels and walk the exhibit floor because there’s no way I’m going to the middle of that much geekdom and not take part. This ends up making it doubly exhausting. So yeah, it’s a great convention, kudos to the people who do it every year. But I’m happy making it an every few years pilgrimage.
And I’m thinking it’s time I get back to Dragon Con, which I’ve only been to once. We’ll see what next year holds.
I’m still sorting out my desk after the last few weeks of heavy lifting. I got to go to an SCA camping event this weekend which was a very nice break. Now, I must figure out where I left my brain. For today’s mental health break, have a picture from a trip a couple of years ago, the Roman arena at Pula, Croatia: