July 9, 2014
July 7, 2014
My brother and his family came to visit this weekend, as we all gathered to celebrate my grandparents’ 65th wedding anniversary (!!!). I got to do something pretty darned special: I took my niece riding. This was one of the things on my auntie bucket list — I’m the horse person in the family, and every little girl needs to ride a pony at least once, so I really wanted to make this happen. We were a bit worried that Emmy wouldn’t be into it — horses are big animals, and if she’d decided she didn’t want anything to do with them, well, that would have been fine.
But see, right now I have access to Thumbelina, who is 13.1 hh — very kid sized. Perfect opportunity. Emmy did great:
(Thumbelina did great, too.) Emmy even helped brush Thumbles’ tail. She didn’t want to get off. Her parents may be doomed, and my work here is done.
When we got home, I remembered that one of my Breyer horses is a little bay Shetland pony that looks very much like Thumbelina, so I gave it to Emmy. Niece’s first Breyer! She’s only two and a half, and doesn’t quite get that not all toys should be thrown around. I had to close my eyes a couple of times, lest I see one of my beloved ponies take damage. But hey, she has her first horse, and that’s important, at least to me.
We all spent the weekend in the mountains, and had some pretty cool wildlife encounters. Here’s the moose who visited us at the cabin where we stayed:
Isn’t he lovely?
July 4, 2014
Today is Independence Day in the U.S. I am away, making a weekend of it, and not working too hard (I hope).
Celebrate well. Celebrate safely.
*Raises a bottle of cider to you all*
July 2, 2014
Announcement: On July 16 at 7 pm, I’ll be at the Hub City Bookshop in Spartanburg, SC, hanging out and chatting and signing books and things. An east coast appearance, woot! This will be after my stint teaching at the Shared Worlds workshop for teens, so it should be a fun action-packed day.
The July issue of Lightspeed is now available! Including a new story by me, “Harry and Marlowe Versus the Haunted Locomotive of the Rockies.” The story goes live on the site on July 22, but you can buy the issue and read it early. This is the fifth Harry and Marlowe story, and yes I have plans to gather them all in a collection someday, but I have a couple more I want to write first before I tie them together.
I’m in the middle of revising the next Kitty book. Holy cow, I’ve got a lot of work to do on this one. Complicated by the fact I have also started writing a whole new novel. Almost ten thousand words in and building steam. I am suddenly very busy. Brain full! Gah!
June 30, 2014
Well, that turned out to be a lot of fun! Nicely done, everybody! There’s an interesting subtext here about war, futility, and gaming — this felt like a video game: dying, going back to start and playing forward with what you learned the last time. But Cage only really gets anywhere when he stops playing that part of the game.
The thing that really won me over: the main character, Cage, starts out being a complete asshole. What this means is this is a redemption story, very straightforward. But you know what I keep saying about the pleasures of a rote story, well told? You don’t need bells and whistles and head scratching plot twists. Tell me a solid story, tell it well, and the thing about this one is, Cage has to really work for his redemption. Really work for it, so by the end it’s very clear he’s grown and learned and come out of this a completely, believably changed person.
I love all this because Hollywood doesn’t often give us such flawed heroes (I’m not talking about the “bad boy with a heart of gold” kind of character that usually gets passed off as a flawed hero, I’m talking the “asshole who usually gets his head bit off first in a Jurassic Park movie” kind of character), with such difficult roads to redemption, and whatever else happens, whatever other nits I could pick with this thing, that makes the film worthwhile.
And is the kickass woman character (yay, Emily Blunt!) just a prize for the hero? No. (Or at least, it’s really ambiguous.) And isn’t that nice?
And now, a story that may or may not be relevant, but the movie reminded me of it so I’m going to tell you
Years ago — 1997 maybe? — Clancy Brown came to Starfest to promote Starship Troopers and I got see his talk. He showed the proof-of-concept clip Veerhoven had put together, sixty seconds of pure brilliant awesome that left the room silent (and to this day I still mourn that the final product couldn’t replicate that sixty seconds), and talked some. Then he opened the floor for questions, but he started by saying, very carefully and specifically, “Look, guys, I know you want to know about the power armor, but we weren’t able to do the power armor. They just couldn’t figure out how to do it. So please don’t ask me about the power armor.”
I think the very first question was asking how they were going to do the power armor.
Over the course of next half hour, four or so more people also asked about the power armor, and each time Clancy Brown patiently, but with obvious frustration, explained that no, there was no power armor, they couldn’t do the power armor, sorry. And yet, people kept asking.
And that was the moment I knew Starship Troopers was going to be a terrible disappointment to a lot of people.
But that first battle drop scene in Edge of Tomorrow? I kept thinking, that right there is the scene that all those people at that Clancy Brown talk really wanted to see.
June 27, 2014
A couple of months ago I went to an SCA camping event for the first time in a while. I had a great time, especially thanks to some friends who let me stay with them. They have a round period pavilion — very nice. Since we all fence, they had a system for storing our many rapiers and daggers to keep them out of the way. So this is what I saw when I woke up in the morning:
June 25, 2014
I am a prolific writer. I average a couple of books a year and a handful of short stories, which I guess is a lot. I have to admit, from my end all I can see are the dozens of books and stories I haven’t written yet, and I never seem to get enough done. But I’ve come to realize, that on the larger scale of things, yes, I am prolific.
I’ve been thinking lately about why that is and how that happens, because I never decided to be prolific, I never mapped out a strategy that would let me write as much as possible. It just happened. But how? Well, the writing every day thing certainly helps — I don’t even have to write a lot every day, just a little bit. Just enough. I’m always thinking of ideas — I don’t wait for an assignment or contract to come along. Writing both short stories and novels helps contribute to the perception of me being prolific.
And there’s one other trait I hit on lately: Abandonment. Knowing when to let go. Being able to move on to the next thing when one thing isn’t working.
What this means if you’re an aspiring writer, if you want to be a professional writer: Don’t pin all your hopes on one thing. As soon as you finish writing that first story, that first novel — start the next. Immediately.
I’ve talked about my three trunk novels a lot. I probably have a proportional number of trunk short stories to go with my 70+ published stories. Then there’s all the stuff I never even sent out: a couple of “practice” novels, a bunch of stories. I still occasionally write a short story that immediately goes into the trunk because I’m not happy with it. It’s okay, because I’ve got this new thing to work on, and it’ll be better.
Because you know what? All those lessons you learned writing that one thing? You’ll be able to use them on the next. The next thing will be better. The reason it was so easy for me to abandon those early novels and stories? As soon as I wrote the next thing, I saw that the earlier stuff wasn’t very good. The only way you can see yourself making progress as a writer is by working on new things, so you can compare.
If you want to be a professional writer, you have to become an idea factory — you should always know the next thing you want to work on. If that last thing doesn’t sell, doesn’t work out, or isn’t actually that good — that’s okay, because you’ve got this next thing, and the next, and the next.
And for the love of all that is good and holy, don’t spend ten years working on the same thing. Don’t rewrite the same thing endlessly, thinking that this next revision will finally make it good. Or, do, but don’t expect to ever become a pro at this gig if you do.
At the risk of inciting ear worms, Let It Go. You have to be able to let go of old work and move on to the next work.