state of the desk update

February 24, 2021

I’ve sold five short stories since last fall. This is a good run that makes me happy. Like, no matter what else happens I still have a foot in the game, and that’s just one of the reasons why I’ll always love short stories. Three of them are for anthology/magazine assignments — including one for Wild Cards. Two were ones I just wrote and submitted.

One of them is already published, in issue #39 of Uncanny Magazine, which is available to Kickstarter backers right now and will be available to everyone else next week, I believe. This may be the fastest turnaround from writing the story to seeing it in print that I’ve ever had — I think I wrote it in November/December. For just a bit of trivia there.

The story is called “The Book of the Kraken” and it’s about a girl and her squid.

OF COURSE I’ll let you know when all the other stories go live.

Now, back to work.

TV catch up

February 9, 2021

I was interviewed by the “Drinking With Authors” podcast! Links to the two segments can be found here and here.

I don’t even know what TV I’m watching anymore. It’s all a blur. It’s February, and I’m hitting my “can’t get warm” winter wall, on top of the pandemic wall that I’ve been bouncing off of over and over again since November. You know, I can’t actually remember November. I’ve read articles that talk about Pandemic Wall like it’s something you hit and get over or hit and stop at. I just keeping hitting it like a ping pong ball. It sucks.

I’m writing a lot, but I’m worried that everything I’m writing is going to turn out awful, like what happened with the novella I wrote over the summer.

Actually, truthfully, there’s been some awfully good TV to watch and it’s been making me happy. My deep dive into The Clone Wars ate my brain for awhile, but it’s probably time to talk about other things.

There are SPOILERS below:

The Expanse season 5. We all know I’m tremendously biased in favor of The Expanse, but I truly believe this continues to be one of the best space SF TV shows of all time. It just has so many moving parts, so many well-drawn characters, and a story that encompasses science, politics, relationships, all of it. This season was particularly stressful and rewarding for folks who’ve read the books…right down to the last five minutes of the finale. If you haven’t read the books…you have no idea what’s about to land on you.

The Mandalorian. I loved it even better than season 1, and it’s weird, because season 2 leans even harder on the fan service, which I’m always suspicious of, but it also used it to go epic? Katee Sackoff is amazing, and it’s Rosario Dawson’s portrayal of Ahsoka that finally got me to watch The Clone Wars. As for the big reveal… fan service, y’all. I confess I wasn’t completely blown over by that reveal, mostly because I was looking for all the ways this could have just straight-up turned into a live-action Rebels sequel. Ahsoka and Luke aren’t the only Jedi running around, you know. Maybe later…

WandaVision. I love this. Love it. I know we still have a couple of episodes left and it could still botch the landing. But what it’s doing so far is amazing and different and wonderful and terribly, terribly sad. And no, the first couple of episodes aren’t slow, they’re absolutely necessary to build the creeping, awful tension. They’re a commentary on American mythologies of domestic happiness, embodied in sitcoms, and how Wanda’s version of it reveal the cracks in her own psyche. The opening of episode 4, portraying the true magnitude of undoing the Snap (“They’ve all come back, we don’t have the capacity!”) — I mean, there I was, sitting down with my pizza thinking I was going to get another sweet sitcom pastiche and thirty seconds later I had to hit pause so I could put myself back together and dry the tears from my food. This is a story about grief. It’s got everything I love about the MCU and it’s breaking my heart like nothing in the MCU ever has.

Onward…

working working…

February 4, 2021

Got nothing this week. Not sure if that’s a function of actually being busy or just feeling like it. I did visit my parents and grandma for pizza on the patio, and got to go riding. So yes, let’s call it actual busy.

Reminder that virtual Boskone is next week. I’m scheduled for several panels and events there. And so is the Great Backyard Bird Count. We’ll see how many juncos I can rack up.

 

QUESTLAND – June 2021

January 22, 2021

I don’t think I posted this yet:

My next novel, QUESTLAND, will be out in June 2021. This summer! Soon! Here’s the full announcement on Tor.com.

I always try to come up with a one-sentence description of my novels, because when I’m talking to people at signings and cons and book festivals and the like, one sentence is usually all I have to hold their attention. Here’s the one for this:

This is about a high-tech LARP that goes horribly, horribly wrong…

 

Happy New Year! My holiday decorations came down yesterday. I usually try to stretch the holidays out, but this year, I hit the new year and immediately put the music away and wanted to get the decorations down (though I waited for Twelfth Night, as usual). Still have lots of cookies and desserts to finish up. That’ll take awhile. But it’s January now for sure.

I think I’m just ready to move forward. Race forward. Get to the next thing. I’m tired of Trump and his sycophants. I’m tired of the pandemic. As has been said by others — I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but we’re still in the tunnel.

It’s a very long tunnel.

So I gotta keep on keeping on.

Here’s a thing: the anthology Some of the Best of Tor.com for 2020 is now available and it includes my story “Sinew and Steel and What They Told.”

I’ve already got a couple of stories lined up for 2021. My next novel, QUESTLAND, will be out in June. Maybe I’ll even get to do some live events for it.

There’s lots to look forward to.

Let’s do it.

 

Miscellany

December 29, 2020

I’m debating about doing a year-in-review post, which is always so popular right about now. But after this year… yeah. It’s a year. And it’s not over. We still have a sitting president and not-insignificant number of elected representatives actively violating their oaths to uphold the Constitution every single day and that’s not magically going to go away January 1. I’m bracing for the jump scare.

It’s been a hard year. My year hasn’t been as hard as some and despite everything I’m grateful every single day for my roof and my job and my family and friends. For birds. I’ve had a hairy woodpecker at my suet feeder for a couple of weeks now and that makes me really happy.

I’ve posted a story up at Curious Fictions: “Sidekick” originally appeared in Unfettered III, and now it’s here for all to read. It’s a superhero story. Sort of. If you feel inclined to donate to my whiskey and comic book fund, there’s a tip jar.

In other news: I’ve started watching Star Wars Clone Wars, which I’ve avoided for years but my current Star Wars immersion phase is starving and must be satisfied. I have many, many thoughts about this show. Before I post them I have to decide how much I really want to argue with people on the internet…

 

2020 in review

December 15, 2020

So, let’s talk about 2020. Hahahahaha no.

I’m just going to talk about what I published in 2020. It was a pretty busy year, as far as new publications. It’s also kind of hard to think way back to January, which seems like another planet now.

Anyway. It’s a tradition, so here it goes:

Collections:

The Immortal Conquistador, March 2020, Tachyon Publications. This is mostly reprints of stories about Rick the vampire, but it also includes a novella, “El Conquistador del Tiempo,” which tells about that one time Rick was the Master of Santa Fe and met the Devil on the crossroads.

Kitty’s Mix-Tape, October 2020, Tachyon Publications. Again, mostly reprints of stories from the Kitty series, but it also includes four new stories: “Kitty Walks on By, Calls Your Name,” “Kitty and Cormac’s Excellent Adventure,” “What Happened to Ben in Vegas,” and “Kitty Busts the Feds.”

These two collect most of the Kitty stories post-2010 or so, and I had a lot of fun revisiting that world. They also mean Kitty is eligible for the Best Series Hugo in 2020, if you’re so inclined to nominate.

Novellas:

The Ghosts of Sherwood, June 2020, Tor.com (Received a starred review in Publishers Weekly!)

The Heirs of Locksley, August 2020, Tor.com

Needless to say, I’m really proud of these two. The idea had been cooking for almost twenty years, I did a bunch of research to make them work, and they were a lot of fun to write when it finally all came together. Will there be more about the Locksley clan? Maybe, if I can find time to write them. So many ideas…

Short Stories:

“Sinew and Steel and What They Told.” February 2020, Tor.com. This is one of my favorite things I’ve ever written. I wrote the first draft in one sitting and I love Graff dearly. Heads up: There will be a new story about Graff coming out next year.

“We Take Care of Everything: The Department of Talent Resources.” The Dystopian Triptych 1: Ignorance is Strength, June 2020.

“We Take Care of Everything: Keep Your Streak Going!” The Dystopian Triptych 2: Burn the Ashes, June 2020.

“We Take Care of Everything: You Have Been Crowdfunded.” The Dystopian Triptych 3: Or Else the Light, June 2020.

“Dirt and Destiny: A Regency Tale.” August 2020, Curious Fictions.

And those are my 2020 credits. I think I got everything.

update

December 7, 2020

That novella I wrote over the summer, with that big pile of rough drafts I keep talking about? That I haven’t looked at? I finally looked at it, and there’s a reason I’ve been dragging my feet on it. It’s terrible. Slow, boring, going through the motions, no zing.

But I know how to fix it, so I’m gonna try to do that. It involves moving chapter three to the beginning, starting with the dead body instead of waiting for twenty pages to get to the dead body. Then have the characters actually work to solve the mystery instead of spending the whole thing talking about solving it. So that’s my work for the next month settled.

Sometimes this gig is very aggravating.

 

gift ideas

December 3, 2020

It’s that time of year — holiday gift giving. Last month I had the horrifying realization that I usually do a lot of my holiday shopping when I travel, looking for special unique gifts that I could never find anywhere else.

I haven’t done any traveling this year. Welp.

I’ll manage, and I’ve found some solutions. I’m especially trying to shop locally, with small businesses and independent artisans. I’ve not placed a single order with Amazon.

In the interest of spreading the joy of creative holiday shopping, would like to pass on a couple of totally self-serving gift ideas: books! If you have readers in your life, there are a ton of possibilities.

Fairwood Press is a small independent press that publishes lots of great books and authors — including me! There are still copies available of the signed, limited edition hardcover of my novella Paranormal Bromance. Lots of other books as well.

Another suggestion: magazine subscriptions. One gift, but new reading all year long. And you can support authors by supporting the places that publish their stories. Some ideas:

Lightspeed Magazine

Asimov’s Science Fiction

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction

Uncanny

A lot of people have pointed out that this pandemic would have looked a whole lot different twenty years ago, before a robust internet, video chatting and streaming media and all that. Add online shopping to the list.

 

state of the desk, again

November 20, 2020

Another update on the big pile of rough drafts I dumped on myself in August:

  • Two of the short stories have sold. The third is back to an editor after a request for a revision and I’m waiting to hear the verdict.
  • The novel is revised and with my agent.
  • The screenplay is still resting. I might be ready to look at it again soon.
  • I haven’t touched the novella yet, but that may be next on the list.

Progress, slow but noticeable.

I wrote a new short story this week. And I’ve started a new novel, but I’m doing this one a little different: it’s for fun. (I mean, they’re all for fun — I really enjoy writing things. But this one doesn’t have a deadline and I haven’t really told anyone about it and it’s outside of my usual list of things I’m working on.) I’m poking at it when I feel like it. I’m just seeing what happens. Just about everything I’ve done with it so far has been on my tablet, away from my desk, and I’m having a really good time not writing it at my desk computer. We’ll see what happens.

It’s, like, writing vacation.