and now I’m sick…

October 7, 2019

I have a cold. I’m not surprised, between a summer full of grief, and of things breaking down, I feel like I’d been holding it off by sheer will power until now. And the timing is pretty good — I’m briefly between trips and things. So, time for All the Tea and taking lots of naps.

While still trying to work a bit because of this deadline.

Meanwhile, here’s your reminder that MileHi Con is coming up in just under two weeks, and I will be there!

 

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checking in and updating

October 4, 2019

1. I just got back from Oregon where I worked on my niece’s Halloween costume while teaching her how to sew. She’s going to be Cleopatra in Space this year. The costume has its challenges but it’s way easier than the entire fursuit I made for Crookshanks last year.

2. I’m revising a novel draft I haven’t really looked at since January. I’m pretty embarrassed I sent this out — it clearly needs a lot of work. On the plus side, it’s definitely going to be better. Things I am doing:  taking out a lot of exposition. Like a lot. Adding more conflict and emotional engagement. Establishing a more antagonistic relationship between the characters and setting, so they’re not just cruising around like tourists.

3. Archeologists love data. I’m reading archeological books for research and some of them are literally just very precise lists of stuff. I’m trying, but it’s tedious and I need a break. Fortunately, a bunch of library holds for novels by favorite writers came through, plus a highly-anticipated ARC in the mail. Woohoo!

4. I’m not sure I’ve ever been less interested in a comic-book inspired movie than I am in Joker. It just looks so drab.

5. And now it’s Friday. I need a nap.

 

Reno – Saturday

September 11, 2019

Reminder, this Saturday I’ll be in Reno for the Nevada Humanities Literary Crawl. I’ve got a couple of panels, a reading, and I’ll be signing books. See you there!

Neolithic research

September 3, 2019

This trip, I spent about five days driving around and looking at piles of stones.

They’re really great piles of stones.  This one is Pulnabrone, probably the most famous of the Irish portal tombs and the one most tourists see.

Longtime readers of the blog will remember when I visited Newgrange five years ago and it kind of took over my brain. This is an era and culture we know very little about, but their ruins are everywhere. These structures hint at a complex, well-organized society. You need free time and abundant resources and intricate knowledge of things like astronomy and physics to build megalithic tombs and monuments. I’ve spent a lot of time imagining what such a society might be like, and why so few stories — even entirely fictionalized stories — get told about it, given how interesting it must have been. I wrote a short story, “Sun, Stone, Spear,” my first delving into what that fiction might look like.

This trip, I was determined to immerse myself. There are hundreds and hundreds of these sites in Ireland. I didn’t even scratch the surface.

This is Lough Gur Wedge Tomb. There is a story that two hundred years ago a local woman lived here. There’s a bit of shelter inside, but not much, so I can’t imagine what that must have been like. It must have felt solid and isolated. I bet people left her alone.

A lot of researchers who work on these sites feel that the traditional Irish stories of fairies and underhill and ancient dangers helped protect these sites. Cairns were left undisturbed, the tombs remained intact, because everyone stayed away from them. Even now, only a tiny percentage have been excavated and studied.

Archeologists are pretty sure how these got built, that isn’t really a mystery:  ropes and rollers, earthen mounds and basic man power. What I’m interested in is how these sites must have looked five thousand years ago, when they were new. Or not new, but maybe a hundred or two hundred years old, when they would have become part of the landscape and the fabric of society, when the culture that built them was still at its peak but had been around long enough that its own history was no longer part of memory. Ireland was mostly forested then, so the landscape would have looked very different than it does now and I tried to image that. Many of these tombs would have had cairns covering them. One site, Carrowmore, is a complex of a dozen or so tombs in a shallow valley. The hilltops surrounding it all have tombs on them, and once you know what to look for, you can see them, the symmetrical lumps of the cairns.

Imagine what that must have looked like, what it meant to the people for whom this was part of their lives, to stand there and be part of this landscape.

I was on a couple of “post-apocalyptic technology” panels at Worldcon — i.e., what would survive after an apocalypse, how would society function, etc. See, this is what happens when you write a couple of post-apocalyptic novels. On one of them, another panelist said something about technology regressing to a really primitive level, “with nothing but stone tools,” or something along those lines.

And I pointed out:  people with stone tools built Newgrange. People with stone tools had a complex, symbolically rich society where they spent a lot of time thinking about the past, the future, and their place in the world.

I managed to pack my brain full of stuff this trip. It’s going to take awhile to process it, and even longer for the stories to come out I’m afraid. I’m a bit daunted. It’s a big idea, and I want to do it right.

 

I’m back!

August 26, 2019

I arrived back from Ireland late last night and have not gotten nearly enough sleep. Am now confronted with all the things I need to do and pulling together everything at home I’ve been neglecting and going through all the emails and so on. And I have no food. So clever, eating all the food before the trip. Argh.

A couple of things before I log off to continue wallowing in the chaos:

On September 14th, I’ll be in Reno, Nevada, taking part in the Nevada Humanities Literary Crawl, along with David Anthony Durham and other great authors. That’s coming up quick…

I have now been translated into Chinese:  my story “The Lady of Shalott” appeared in Chinese SF magazine Science Fiction World this month.

I saw so much in Ireland my brain is packed full and I’m still processing.

Worldcon in Dublin was good, but I feel like I didn’t get to see and do everything I could have. It was spread out and things got crowded. But I really enjoyed meeting a bunch of readers and fans and all my programming was packed with enthusiastic people. I read from a brand-new Kitty story, which I’m provisionally calling “Kitty Walks on By, Calls Your Name,” but I’m expecting the have to change it. We’ll see. It’s about Kitty going to her 10-year high school reunion. It’ll be out next year.

And now, back to the email mines…

 

self-imposed deadlines

August 15, 2019

Taking a really big trip is a good way to set deadlines for myself. This is a good way to get things done. But it can backfire, like last week, when I decided I need to finish, like, everything.  I have a couple of actual, contractual deadlines on September 1. But seeing has how that’s just a week after I get back from the Ireland trip?  No sir, let’s do everything before so I don’t have to worry about it! That’s great!

In the last two weeks I’ve finished revisions on two novellas and three short stories, started revisions on a third novella, compiled notes for a novel revision and started a new novel outline. I always seem to do this to myself. I spend six months writing up a storm and at the end of it am left with this giant stack of revising that cannot be avoided, and I can’t really start anything new until I clear my brain.

I need a vacation.

Hey, guess what?!

*collapses*

P.S.:  The three novellas and three short stories will all be released at some point in the next year, along with two other novellas that are totally done, including The Immortal Conquistador. The only thing harder than revisions is waiting for all this work to make its way to the public…

 

The Immortal Conquistador

August 1, 2019

Sorry about the silence and the spotty posting. I had family visiting this weekend and so was off on adventures like hiking Garden of the Gods and taking my 7 year old niece to Casa Bonita. She’s the perfect age for it because Black Bart’s Cave was too scary.

And now I’m back, and getting ready for Worldcon in Dublin. I’m on a bunch of programming and hope to have some good adventures.

Meanwhile, I have a cover reveal.

(Art by Rebecca Harp.)

The Immortal Conquistador is all stories about Rick the vampire, who has become one of my favorite characters to write about.  Half of this is reprints — “El Conquistador de la Noche,” “El Hidalgo de la Noche,” and “Dead Men in Central City.”  Taken together these stories have a great western frontier flare that are a big reason why I keep writing stories about Rick. I love that milieu, and he’s got 500 years worth of stories to tell.

The other half of the book is a brand-new novella that jumps back and forth in time. It tells what happened to Rick immediately after the events of Kitty Rocks the House, and back to 1848 and that one time Rick ended up in Santa Fe…

But I say too much. You’ll have to read about it. It’s due out in February from Tachyon Publications.

Barnes and Noble did a write-up on the whole thing here.

Stay tuned. More announcements are on the way. I don’t have a novel coming out this year, but I do have 5 novellas coming out over the next year. Apparently I’ve been busier than I thought…