March 6, 2015
I just realized: I have three new short stories coming out this month! This amuses me because once again these are stories written over the course of the last year and a half or so, for different publications, and they all happen to be coming out within a week or so of each other. These things really do come in avalanches!
Now Available: Operation Arcana, tales of military fantasy edited by John Joseph Adams. This has my story “Sealskin,” about a half-selkie Navy SEAL, not even kidding. Astute readers have been asking if this is a sequel to another story I have about a selkie, “The Temptation of Robin Green.” And the answer is yes, it is a sequel. I hope you enjoy it. And here’s yet another world I could definitely write more about.
Next up, March 10: The Doll Collection, a horror anthology edited by Ellen Datlow. My story here is called “Goodness and Kindness,” and it’s about Kewpie dolls. A peek behind the curtains: this is the first story I’ve sold to Ellen after 20 years of trying. I’m pretty sure I sent a story or two to her when she was still editing fiction at Omni. So, this is something of a milestone. And I pretty much got in because I know way too much about Kewpie dolls — my grandmother is an avid collector.
And third, March 17: My story “Sun, Stone, Spear” will appear at Beneath Ceaseless Skies. This story is a direct result of my trip to Ireland last summer, and I’m very pleased that some of my burgeoning obsessions and research from then resulted in a viable story — and maybe even more viable stories in the future. Let’s make “neolithic fantasy” a thing, everybody!
February 27, 2015
I spent a lot of Boskone joking that I was kind of enjoying the massive amounts of snow because Colorado had had a light winter so far. Well, we’re now on track in my area for having one of our snowiest Februarys on record — we’ve had three major snowfalls in the last week. And I’m patting myself on the back for successfully bringing snow back from Boston with me.
I’m having a busy kind of distracted ADD sort of week (cleaning, revising, finishing a draft, generally bouncing between too many things at once), so in lieu of a more in-depth blog post (and worrying about whether I should do more manifesto and less geek-tastic type posts? Hm? There’ve been a lot of manifestos out there in SF&F blog land lately. So maybe not), here’s another piece from my Big Fat Crafting Holiday Season:
This is a lacey pattern I got off Ravelry. You can find it here. I’ve probably knitted four or five of these. It’s relatively simple but deeply satisfying, when that beautiful leafy pattern starts to come through.
A gave this to my grandmother. It’s her color, and that’s exactly what she said when she opened it, “It’s my color!” I love it when I can zero in on a perfect gift like that.
February 25, 2015
1. Logistics are not a substitute for plot.
2. If your viewpoint character has a deep dark secret, do not keep that secret from the reader for two thirds of the book. (“She had a secret. It really was a terrible secret. Unmentionable, really. No — it’s really terrible! It did not even bear thinking on, so she didn’t. Just that, you know, she had a secret.”) If you do, the reader will be reading to discover the secret, and not to see what happens to the character, and by the time you finally reveal that damned stupid secret, your reader’s reaction will likely be, “That’s it? That’s the big secret? Seriously?” and to throw the book across the room. (Drawback of e-books — unable to throw book across room.) Instead, state the secret up front and show us how it informs the main character’s actions and thoughts. The revelation of the secret to the other characters will be the big climactic moment, not the revelation to the reader.
3. If in the first book of a series you establish that one of the main characters becomes something of a father figure to the other main character, then in the second book you should probably make sure those two characters interact at some point, instead of purposefully keeping them apart because you think that having them actually talk about stuff will derail the plot in which the second character does something stupid that the former character might presumably talk her out of. Don’t jettison an entire prior book’s worth of characterization just to make the plot easier for you to handwave into existence.
February 20, 2015
Random nattering today. I had a really good day yesterday: started with a great ride on TinyHorse, I finally got to sit down and write something substantial, I made cashew chicken for dinner, and then I watched Guardians of the Galaxy. I was worried it wouldn’t be as good as I remember. Turns out, IT’S BETTER. Plus, Dancing Baby Groot still leaves me weeping with joy. I still really appreciate that the movie doesn’t have an opening scroll or voiceover, and this time I really noticed that all the pop music is actually playing in the course of action. As in, if the song is playing in the soundtrack, it’s because it’s playing on Peter’s tape deck. I love that. So many movies and TV shows use pop music in a soundtrack as some kind of emotional shorthand, but in Guardians it’s part of the action.
What I’m working on: I finished up two short stories this month, which was nice. Next, revisions on the YA space opera, and a secret project. I’m hoping to finish up both of those in March. Then. . .well, gosh, I’m not sure!
We’re supposed to get a big snowstorm this weekend. We’ll see if it actually happens. If it does, I may stay home and binge watch the Robotech DVD’s I got for my birthday.
February 11, 2015
I will be in Boston this week. That is, I’m planning on being in Boston this week. Everyone I’ve said this to over the last couple of days has given me this skeptical side-eye, seeing as how the region is well on its way to becoming Ice Planet Hoth. Nevertheless, until the airline or the convention or the mayor of Boston or the governor of Massachusetts tells me otherwise, the plan remains intact.
If that changes, I will tell you. I’ll do my best to post here and/or on Facebook. And please, if it’s dangerous for you to travel, don’t.
First up, Thursday at 7 pm, I’ll be reading and signing at the Harvard Coop Bookstore. I think this is my first real bookstore event in this part of the country, so I’m very excited!
Next up, Boskone. I’m on a ton of programming, including the usual round of panels, readings, and signings. The program is up on the site — check it out!
And maybe I’ll see you soon!
February 4, 2015
First off: Happy Birthday, Dad!
And now some stuff:
Tomorrow, February 5th, 7 pm, I’m signing at the Downtown Book Bin in Salem OR.
This weekend, February 7-8, is HowlCon in Vancouver, WA (near Portland!). This is an entirely werewolf themed convention, and should be a howling good time.
Jay Lake wrote the introduction, and I’ve been having a little trouble re-reading it, because I can still hear his voice and it still hurts that he’s gone.
January 30, 2015
I’ve been reading Stephen Sondheim writing about art, creating, and writing, and picked out these choice bits. From Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-1981).
p. xvii. “Music straitjackets a poem and prevents it from breathing on its own, whereas it liberates a lyric. Poetry doesn’t need music; lyrics do.”
(This is one of those places where I went, “Duh, of course, why did I never think of it that way before? And then I think, well, what do we do about some Renaissance poetry that was originally meant to be sung, but these days we mostly look at it without the music — and maybe we ought to go back to listening to it instead of reading it…and so on.)
p. xviii. “Mis-stressing is a cardinal sin, and as an occasional sinner myself, it drives me crazy.”
(I recently taught a sonnet-writing class, and my example of the great crime of mis-stressing was from the Fleetwood Mac song “Dreams:” “When the rain wash-ES you clean you know…” Jolts me every damn time I hear it.)
p. xxvi. “There is something about the conscious use of form in any art that says to the customer, “This is worth saying.” …. The more random and imprecise, the more writing becomes blather….”
(This, a million times this…)