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.


side project!

November 17, 2020

One of the side projects I got to work on recently: I was asked to write the introduction for a new limited edition of Philip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly, published by Suntup Editions, with art by Vanessa Lemen. This is going to be a really good-looking book, I think.

I’m not going to lie, I usually post about stuff I do because I want you to go buy it. In this case, though, the edition appears to be already sold out.

I love getting to do cool things like this. In the SF&F writing community, people often talk about whether there’s any tangible benefit from winning awards besides the shiny of the award, and I usually argue that there is, and this is a good example — an opportunity like this is a direct result of winning the Philip K. Dick Award a couple of years back. 


Here’s your infrequent reminder that I put out an infrequent e-newsletter, and I decided that it was a good idea to publish one in the direct aftermath of the most important presidential election of my lifetime. Because in 2020, timing is a fool’s game.

You can see it here, and subscribe if you like.

I’m told that e-newsletters are one of the most important and effective marketing tools a writer can use, but I haven’t really figured out how to make it all work yet. It is a nice way to consolidate news, and this one is a pretty good summary of the work I did in 2020. Enjoy!



recent posts

October 22, 2020

I’ve done a number of posts for other sites promoting Kitty’s Mix-Tape and other sundry items. Here are some of them:

At John Scalzi’s blog I talk about The Big Idea behind the new collection.

At Mary Robinette Kowal’s site, I reveal My Favorite Bit about it.

And finally, over at the Official Wild Cards Site, I describe how I research writing historical fiction. I’m currently working on a story for Wild Cards set in 1961 (project to be announced), so this was a timely piece.



Upcoming events

October 7, 2020

I have a few virtual events coming up:

This Friday, Kevin Hearne and I will be chatting about our new books, courtesy of the BookBar. Sign up for the Crowdcast event here.

October 17-18 is virtual Capclave. All the usual convention activities — panels, readings, etc. — but you don’t have to change out of your PJ’s! (I will probably go ahead and change out of my PJ’s.) I’ll also be hosting a release party for Kitty’s Mix Tape!

October 23-25 is virtual MileHi Con. Same deal! check it out!

Well, this month is turning out to be pretty busy!


state of the desk

September 29, 2020

One thing that’s happened over the summer is I’ve become a lot more relaxed about the blog. Sometimes I post, sometimes I don’t, and that’s okay.

I took a Sanity Roadtrip last week, and went camping in Mesa Verde National Park. Socially distant wilderness. Tore up my foot on a long-ass hike. It was great. Pics later once I’ve had a chance to go through them (of the park, not my injured foot). I wanted to clear my head a bit, and I think it worked. It was summer when I left and full autumn when I returned, which was strange and lovely and a bit exhilarating. Time to move forward, right? Lifer bird counted:  rock wren.

You may remember back in August I did a big organizational clearing of my desk, gathered up all the rough drafts I had accumulated, and worked out a plan to get things out the door. I think losing Lily did something to my brain space and switched on a manic phase. I just had to do something, you know? I’m not questioning it, I’m just trying to go with it.

Here’s the update: The five rough drafts became six rough drafts. The two short stories are revised and out the door — one of them sold the same day I submitted it, which sure felt great. The screenplay is rewritten. It needs more work so I’ve set it aside again, but it’s in better shape than it was. I’m now working on the novel — I’ve got all the notes, have a bunch of ideas, and now I’m reading through the manuscript. Next step will be the rewrite. Then I’ll revise the sixth story, because it’s due in November.

Making a plan to get all this done has made a big difference. I may not be moving fast right now but I’m moving.


link roundup

August 31, 2020

Lots to share this morning:

“Dirt and Destiny: A Regency Tale.” I posted this to Curious Fiction — never before published! I wrote this a long time ago and read it out loud at a couple of events, but it’s never seen print. Until now! What happens when you cross Jane Austen with Robert E. Howard? And why has no one asked this question before? If you feel like contributing to my Irish whiskey fund, please consider adding to the tip jar!

“The Hunstman and the Beast.” My genderflipped retelling of Beauty and the Beast is reprinted at Lightspeed Magazine.

Also at Lightspeed this month is my long review of the Amazon TV series “Upload,” which I liked a whole lot.

Over at I write a bit about my current pile of reading.

You have four days left to get in on the Kickstarter for Uncanny Magazine Year Seven — which will include a story by me!

And… Wild Cards XI: Dealer’s Choice is back in print after thirty years, with a new cover. I love these Michael Komarck covers so much…

trying something new

August 26, 2020

Trying something new on my revising/rewriting process. I just read Screenwriting is Rewriting by Jack Epps, Jr. and it gave me a ton to think about. Not just for the screenplay I’m working on, but for the novel I need to revise — I think a lot of the lessons about character and story are applicable. Highly recommend the read, especially for people with finished rough drafts that they know aren’t quite right but they’re feeling stuck on. This step is all about digging out the heart of the story and making it clear for your audience/reader. If you’ve been getting “this is nicely written but just didn’t grab me” kinds of rejections, this might be useful as well.

I’ve never used index cards or sticky notes in my process before. I brainstorm and make outlines — multiple outlines, usually. And those are effective (21 published novels, clearly I’m doing okay on this whole gig…) But I’m curious what happens if I try something different, if I can use this method — making notes in a way that can be easily rearranged and visualized — to clarify my story.

So, lets crack open some index cards and go mining for insights.


state of the desk

August 17, 2020

This is what 5 rough drafts look like. A novel, a novella, a screenplay, and two short stories. I’m hoping to add another short story to the pile by next week.

I really need to do some revising. So much easier right now to just pile on the fresh word count. But I gotta get some of this stuff out the door…

new author pic!

August 12, 2020

My next novel, QUESTLAND, will be out June 2021. We’ll be doing a big cover reveal at some point soon, and it’s a gorgeous cover. I’m excited. I decided I wanted a new author picture to go with the new cover and new book. We did the shoot responsibly, outdoors and appropriately distanced.

I’m pleased with the result.