Patreon Link

January 17, 2022

Okay, here it is! It went live over the weekend, and now you can see what I’ve been working on:

I’m creating a Writing Symposium on Patreon

I’m already feeling some improvement in my motivation — I’ve set this up with a structure and deadlines that will encourage me to get work out. I suddenly realized that I haven’t had an external deadline — someone else telling me they need X work by X date — in a year. While I’m usually really good at setting deadlines for myself, I think that muscle has been getting tired. This is going to provide some accountability. Let the experiment begin!

I’m also starting to watch movies again. At home, anyway. Some thumbnail reviews:

Eternals. Oh, sweetie. Where to start. It’s beautiful and elegiac. And hits so many of my pet peeves in the first fifteen minutes that it was hard to keep going. 1) Opening scroll containing information that a character repeats in dialog a little bit later. (MCU, you know better than this.) 2) Huge, vast, expository lumps. In fact, the second expository lump is basically “Oh yeah, that whole first expository lump was all wrong, so here’s another one, delivered in exactly the same cosmically overbearing way the first one was.” and 3) Look, I just really really need people know that agriculture had been established in Mesopotamia well before 5000 BCE, along with domesticated animals, stone walls, and early urban social organization, so telling me that it’s 5000 BCE Mesopotamia and then showing people digging in the dirt with sticks and banging rocks together is just deeply offensive. I know I’m a little sensitive to this because I’ve been studying the Neolithic period kind of a lot for the last few years. But really, all they needed to do was say it was 10,000 BCE and I wouldn’t have had a problem. Or as much of a problem, anyway.

To be fair, I think there’s a good story in here about a family facing a moral conundrum and members coming down on both sides of it in a really tragic way. But we have to wade through a lot of awkward to get there.

The Tragedy of Macbeth. This is here to remind us that cinema can be art. The design on this is black and white, Modernist, spare, shockingly beautiful. Bergmanesque. Washington and McDormand are fantastic. They play the couple as really in love, and their mental breakdowns in the last half are understated, swift, and brutal. This is not my favorite Shakespeare movie, but it’s a really really good one.

upcoming appearances!

January 13, 2022

Y’all, I’m so out of practice in posting about news and stuff that people would actually like to hear about… But here we go, let’s do it!

February 18-20: I’ll be participating virtually in Boskone. Log on to see my smiling face, and a bunch of other programming besides!

March 16-20: I’ll be IN PERSON at the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts. This is the one I had to cancel out of two years ago when everything fell apart. Let’s see if I can actually get to Florida this time! Is it weird that I’m really looking forward to doing some birdwatching while I’m in Orlando?

Uncanny Magazine is having a poll to vote on the best stories of the year! My short story, “The Book of the Kraken,” about a girl and her squid is among the candidates, if you’re so inclined to tick the box!

Into the Future…

January 10, 2022

I have an announcement.

Short version:  I’m moving this blog over to Patreon, a crowdfunding platform where audiences can directly support creators. There’ll be at least a couple of free posts every month, so some version of this blogging experience will continue. BUT…  I’ll also be creating what I’m calling a Writing Symposium:   a living, evolving document with info about the craft and business of writing, and my own process and how it functions in the real world. Like a “how to write” book but more interesting. Also, this will give me some much-needed structure and motivation, which has been lacking this past year. Link forthcoming.

Long explanation:

I mentioned a couple months ago that blogging has been difficult for me. I’ve been writing this blog for about 15 years. When I started it, blogging was still cool. The Kitty series was just getting going. I had a lot to say and I was going to a lot of movies and figuring out a lot of stuff on the fly. Well, after almost two years of pandemic, of struggling with broken novels, and a year of an ongoing coup being perpetrated by former and current elected officials who, in denying the results of the 2020 election, are in violation of their oaths of office and probably guilty of actual crimes, and so on and so forth… I’m really tired.  I still like the idea of a blog, of having a place to put big thoughts and movie reviews and the like. But the actual necessity of finding subjects to write about, then writing them, on a schedule, is a struggle.

Throughout all this I’ve also been toying with the idea of putting together a “how to write” book.

I’ve been writing professionally for more than 20 years, teaching workshops and critiquing for much of that time. I have a lot of thoughts about this gig. But I have to be honest, the idea of writing a book on the subject doesn’t really appeal to me. There are thousands of books on writing out there. Does the world really need another?

Then I got an idea.

I’m starting a Patreon. A lot of fiction writers have started Patreons, and most of them are using the platform to post fiction. I won’t be doing that. I’m going to use the platform to talk about writing. A Writing Symposium. And not just writing, but creativity in general, and everything that goes into building a creative life. I’ve spent a lot of the pandemic thinking about life, and how “a life” isn’t something you build and then you’re finished. It’s an ongoing process, in pretty much constant flux. Building a creative life – one in which you have space to think, dream, write, paint, sing, and make – even more so, since those are often activities that the wider world doesn’t value or take seriously. But they’re really important and it’s all a process that takes attention.

In much the same way, I don’t want to put together a “how to write” book and have it be a static thing, because I’m still learning and growing. A book would be a snapshot of my thoughts at one point in time. With this platform, I’m hoping to create an evolving, interactive document about writing and creativity. This will also give me a regular schedule and structure for posting.

And maybe a little cash, that never hurts.  Because something else I’ve learned is that all this knowledge I’ve scraped together over the years is valuable. Instead of trying to sell a book, I’m putting out a tip jar, basically.

Many of you have been with me from the start, commenting and supporting me, and I’m so very grateful to you for that. So now I have some questions for you… What would you like to see me do in this new format? 

–What do you like in this blog as it is now?  What keeps you coming back?

–What levels of support would you like to see? I’ll definitely have free posts that will very much resemble what I do here, but I’m also considering $1, $5, and $25 per month  levels of support.  These would unlock more in-depth posts on writing in general, and my process in particular.

–If you support other Patreons, what do you like about them? What do you not like? Any advice?

I’m excited about starting up a whole new project. I’m also a little daunted, but I’m taking that as a good sign – challenges are good, and clearly I need something to get me going. So here we go…

Of course I’ll post the link when this goes live!

SNOW!

January 3, 2022

We got our snow! 6-7 inches of it, along with frigid temperatures. I didn’t shovel the drive in December but I did it January 1, so close enough, and finally, finally it feels like winter. This is why the holidays never really felt like the holidays. I joke that I’m allowed to start playing holiday music when we get snow, and this year…no snow. The whole thing just felt off. (It would be different if I lived someplace like Florida and didn’t expect snow, but this is freaking Colorado.)

And now it’s winter. Whew. Didn’t really realize how much I was missing it until this weekend.

fire

December 31, 2021

Welp. 2021, the year of 100 T-Rexes, continues right up to the bloody end.

Yesterday, 100 mph winds drove a wildfire directly through the suburban corridor south of Boulder.

I’m fine. I live about 20 miles north of the fire, which was moving the other direction. I’ve gotten lots of messages asking if I’m okay, and the answer is yes. Although twenty years ago I lived in a house that’s about half a mile from the edge of the burn zone. That’s my old stomping grounds that burned.

A lot of people in my area aren’t okay today. If you’re able to help and want to, the Boulder County Wildfire Fund is accepting donations.

Stay safe out there. Hug your peeps.

I decided to not wait for the new year and am trying to be a little bit productive this week. Build up some momentum, right? I haven’t felt like myself for a few weeks now — traveling through the fall, Worldcon, then worries about omicron dropping on everything like a ton of bricks. Much of the socializing that normally happens this time of year hasn’t happened and it’s made me sad.

So, work it is. This month I sold a short story, submitted another one, am wrapping up a draft of a thing that’s kind of an experiment and I have no idea how it’s going to turn out, and lined up the next couple of projects after that. Sometimes the hardest part of this gig is figuring out what to work on next.

We still haven’t had any appreciable snowfall in my part of Colorado. My friend in Crested Butte sent pictures of the three feet of snow they got last week. I’m a little miffed. In all my years in Colorado I’ve never gone all the way through December without needing to shovel the drive at least once.

I did get a lifer bird on this week’s bird walk:  a canvasback. Three of them, actually. This was a bird I thought I’d checked off already, but it turns out I haven’t. That was a nice end-of-year birding bonus!

Mostly I think I need to spend this week wrapping my brain around the fact that this time next week will be 2022. Happy New Year, friends! Brace for impact…

Happy Holidays!

December 23, 2021

I have done it again, told myself I would write a blog post tomorrow, or maybe the next day, soon…and let the time get away from me. But you know what? That’s okay. It’s the holidays. I bought books on my trip to D.C. and I really want to spend the next few days reading them and drinking wine. Let’s do it!

Worldcon was good, if strange. I loved doing something different and seeing people I don’t see often. I was a Hugo finalist’s “designated acceptor” and so got to do all the fun Hugo stuff with none of the anxiety. (My friend did not win, alas.) But with omicron, things got stressful. I didn’t do as much as I normally do at a con.

I did spend quite a bit of time playing tourist in D.C. because the weather was great and there’s so much to see. The National Zoo was within walking distance of the hotel, and with no crowds I got to spend as much time as I wanted watching the baby panda. So beautifully adorable! Walking around I saw cardinals and some other east coast birds that I don’t get to see in Colorado. It was so good for my soul.

I’ve had both a PCR and rapid test since returning, and both are negative, so I’ll be spending Christmas with my family, and that is good.

Now if we could just get some snow…

year in review 2021

December 13, 2021

It’s time for the annual review of what I published this year. Had a little trouble trying to remember everything. If last year was battling a chicken the size of a T-Rex, this year has been battling a hundred T-Rexes the size of chickens. I’ve spent a lot the year being angry and tired, and angry and tired about being angry and tired. It’s a terrible feedback loop.

But I think I’m writing some of the best stories I’ve done in my whole career. I’m really proud of this group of publications, and most of it was done during the pandemic. So, I just need to keep going, I guess.

Novel

Questland. About gaming and pop culture and real-world violence vs. made-up violence and what stories mean and lots more. In some ways it still doesn’t feel real that this book is out in the world. Part of the strangeness of this year.

Novella

“Age of Wonders,” in Wild Cards Deuces Down. This was an impossible task: take a 20-year old anthology and write an interstitial that ties together a group of completely unrelated stories. And I did it. And I think I did a good job.

Fatal Storm and Charmed Waters. The two new Cormac and Amelia stories. And I absolutely love the novella format that lets me do these and have fun without knocking myself out the way novel writing sometimes does.

Novelette

“The Burning Girl” in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. The Norman Conquest with superheroes, and I think we need a lot more historical fiction with superheroes.

Short Stories

“The Book of the Kraken” in Uncanny Magazine. A girl and her squid. ‘Nuff said.

“An Easy Job” at Tor.com. The second Graff story. I have so much I want to do with Graff, he’s been spending a lot of time in my brain lately.

“Entanglement: Or How I Failed to Knit a Sweater for My Boyfriend” in Lightspeed, out just this month. I think this is a light little story about knitting, then I go back and look at it again and… well, I just really like this story.

And that’s my year in publications.

new story!

December 9, 2021

I have a new short story out today! Lightspeed Magazine has published “Entanglement, or How I Failed to Knit a Sweater for My Boyfriend.”

Maybe not my longest title, but close. I’m really proud of this one (I mean, I’m proud of most of my writing, but some stories stand out, you know?) because the idea hit me all at once and bubbled up and turned into a real story much quicker than usual, and it’s always nice when that happens. It was fun to write. I hope it’s fun to read.

Just FYI, I’ve never knitted a full-on sweater.

If you’re still looking for holiday gifts, may I make a recommendation, perhaps if you have a gamer in your life who has everything? My latest novel QUESTLAND might be just the thing.

Halloween 2021

December 6, 2021

This post is waaaay late (it’s December now, right? Yeah…), but what can I say, it’s been a year.

Nevertheless, behold: my niece’s Halloween costume! If the Ewok doesn’t totally give it away, Emery decided to be Endor Leia this year. And can I just say, I was a bit relieved to get a project that was relatively simple. It’s a dress. A simple dress! I bet it was comfortable, too.

I’m pleased with how it turned out — getting the details right is the challenge on something like this.