January 13, 2017
Organizing for the new year. I’m trying some new things. Hoping to stay on top of things rather than scrambling to catch up. Making some little goals, with the intention of feeling more accomplished overall. Like:
Keeping my desk clear. This is tragically difficult for me since I organize by stacking. But it’s been mostly clear for a week now and I’m really liking it. Enough to make the effort to keep it this way, I hope.
Straighten up the kitchen before bed. Because mornings are much nicer when I walk into a clear a kitchen, rather than seeing last night’s dirty dishes all piled in the sink.
I started brushing up on my Spanish with Duolingo. I had five years of Spanish classes under my belt, but that was twenty years ago and I was never entirely proficient. So far, this seems like a good program for small increments of daily practice. I can manage ten minutes a day, in that usual down time between when I stop working and start on dinner. I’m aiming for at least tourist proficiency.
Do better about reporting my birding logs on eBird. They really do use the data to track bird populations. I recorded some pretty good logs last year that I just never entered. I can take that one extra step. I should.
I started a bullet journal last fall, and it really seems to be kicking into gear with the new year. This is just about the first time I’ve ever jumped on a trendy self-help bandwagon. But you know what? It seems to be working. My desk is no longer covered with sticky note to-do lists. When I need to write something down to remember it, the journal generally already has a place for it. Deadlines, release dates, conventions, all the little details I need to remember as part of a freelance gig, plus all the details I want to remember as part of a well-rounded life, are all folded together in one package. I like it.
And that’s me, getting things put together so I’ll be in better shape for future battles. Onward.
January 11, 2017
A number of online opportunities presented themselves this week:
There’s a special Wild Cards e-book bundle available that includes the first five Wild Cards novels. These include my stories in the reissued versions of #1 and #4. If you’ve been wondering where to start with the series, this is it!
Tor.com is giving away an anthology Some of the Best From Tor.com for 2016, if you sign up for the newsletter. I’m in this one too! It includes my story “That Game We Played During the War.”
And my January movie reviews for Lightspeed went live this week. It in you can see more of my comments on Moana, Rogue One, and Passengers.
Continuing on with Julia Child’s My Life in France and I got a little teary-eyed thinking that I was about the same age when I started my own Operation Learn To Cook as she was when she started classes at Le Cordon Bleu. A couple years younger maybe. But still. It’s never too late.
January 9, 2017
One week until MARTIANS ABROAD! Don’t forget to check the “conventions and signings” link on the right for where I’ll be over the next couple of weeks. I also started a Goodreads List of some of the books I used for research, as well as other books about exploring space, in case you’re looking for some sweet sweet science.
Last week I read Well-Schooled in Murder by Elizabeth George. This week I’m reading Julia Child’s memoir, My Life in France.
I caught some of the 2003 Daredevil movie on TV last night, and it’s kind of shocking just how much the basic mode of superhero movies has changed over the last decade. That thing had a voice over I’d forgotten about. A lot of cheesy cinematography. A lot of assuming the audience isn’t going to get it so we’d better dumb it down. And Colin Farrell as Bullseye? I had totally forgotten about that.
So is anyone watching Versailles? I’ve seen the first few episodes and I’m intrigued, but I’m not quite convinced it’s entirely good. If I was going to be flippant I’d say it was The Tudors in France, and I’m wondering if I’m enjoying this more simply because I don’t know the history the way I know Tudor history and so can’t get distracted and offended. It’s definitely of the Game of Thrones sexy sexy, naked women everywhere, court politics mode of TV. But it also has a few characters who entirely defy stereotypes. The brother, for one. The lady doctor is completely charming me — I want a show all about her. But mostly the aesthetics are amazing. There’s a theme about Louis’ vision for Versailles, and the dream-like nature of the project. He literally has dreams and visions about it, and sometimes memories intrude. There’s a fantastic ambient score underlying the whole thing, adding to the not-quite-real mood, and lots of beautiful, deep shots of gardens, rooms, crowds of people. It’s quite lovely. But in the end, is it really just The Tudors in France? (Sorry, Francophiles. Maybe The Tudors is Versailles in England?)
January 6, 2017
A have a new novel out in 10 days. At this point there’s not a whole lot left I can do and I’m entirely stressing about things I have no control over. You’d think after twenty novels I’d know not to compulsively check the book’s Amazon ranking, which is frankly quite arbitrary and only valuable in comparison with lots of other data points. But still, I do it. Human beings sure like watching numbers go up and down.
However, the pre-release buzz is making me feel much better:
The Barnes and Noble Recommended SF&F for January says this: “In Polly, Vaughn has crafted a pitch-perfect young adult voice and a top-notch sci-fi action story, every bit the feminist answer to the so-called Robert Heinlein “juveniles” that inspired it.”
John DeNardo at Kirkus Reviews says: “This is a book you can hand to a teen reader to get them hooked on reading.”
That’s all about exactly what I was going for when I wrote the book. I’ll take it.
Stay warm this weekend, y’all. (Currently -9 F here in Colorado. NO.)
January 4, 2017
I’m trying to clean up and go through my office a bit, to get the new year off to a more organized start. So, when I first started out, when I sold my first few stories, I put the contracts in a file folder. One simple manila folder labeled “short story contracts.” I mean, there weren’t very many of them. They all fit. About five or six years into this I got my first reprint request, which was pretty exciting, and I dug out the contract for that story and paper clipped the reprint contract to the first one, to keep them together.
At some point, I don’t remember exactly when, this got cumbersome. I was getting more reprint requests and it was getting hard to find things. “Amaryllis” alone has been reprinted half a dozen or so times. So I dumped out that folder and gave each short story its own folder, labeled with the title.
I think I have close to a hundred of those folders now. It’s kind of a great system, because each story’s publication history is all right there, and when I’m putting a collection together I can pull the folders and group them together. It’s easy to sort. When I started, I filed all my work related papers in a little plastic file box. Now, it’s all spread across a couple of big file drawers.
And that’s yet another way to measure progress.
December 30, 2016
At the end of 2016, I’m still thinking about 2015. I didn’t have a novel release in 2016, and this was because of stuff that happened in 2015. Which, basically, was a lot of nothing. (Thank goodness for Amaryllis and Other Stories, it gave me something to talk about.) At the end of 2015 I got a new agent and spun up some new projects. This meant letting go of some of the old projects, at least for now. Looking ahead, I’m still coming to terms with what I thought was going to happen and ended up not, and what actually is happening.
2015 is going down in my personal history as The Year of Stalled Projects. Reading over some of that year’s blog entries, I had so many things I was excited about. All these writing projects I wanted to talk about but didn’t because I didn’t know what was going to happen to them. Projects that it turned out never went under contract, never sold, and are still sitting on my hard drive, unfinished. One entire novel written, two more 3/4 written, a couple of novellas, a screenplay. All moved to the back burner right now.
It’s really depressing when I write it out like that.
The good news is, I made the changes I needed to and things are a lot, a lot different this year. (Thanks, Seth!) Two new novels with actual release dates, covers, and everything. (Martians Abroad due out in just a couple of weeks, read the first chapter here! And Bannerless due out in July!) Cool writing stuff I can actually talk about.
Now that I’ve got some momentum back on the business/career side, I’m digging out. Doing some triage of those projects, figuring out what I can do to get some of that 2015 work out there. My current contract is one book a year, after years of being on the two book a year grind. This gives me some breathing room. We’ll see what I can do with it.
My writer friend Daniel likes to say this business is all about gambling. If you want to win, you have to put your chips on the table. Not all of those chips are going to work out. But some of them will. If you keep making your bets.
I’ve got a lot of bets left to make.
Onward and upward! Here’s to a happy 2017.
December 19, 2016
Less than a week to go until my family does the holiday thing. I’m caught in that moment between zen and panic. I’ve finished most of the gifts, I’ve made some cookies, I did cards last night. I start to relax — and then I think of one more thing and wonder if I’ll have time. But I think it’s going to be okay. I think I can sit back and enjoy things a bit.
In the meantime, here’s some holiday cheer for you.
From the 80’s alternative vault, this is a new one to me but it’s definitely going into the rotation:
My favorite, the one that never gets old:
And Cyndi (not great quality. but it is Cyndi singing, which is always cool.):