Tim Pratt
SF and Fantasy Writer

Archive for August, 2010

Week of a Thousand Yawns

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

My wife’s been gone on a trip since Tuesday night, and though I’ve had heroic babysitting help from my mother-in-law the past couple of days, it’s still been an exhausting week. Partly because I’ve been staying up late puttering around my empty house until well after midnight, even though the boy has been getting up at 6 or 6:30. As a result I’ve been tired, distracted, cranky, and generally out of sorts. (Which led to me being cranky in the comments threads of blogs, something I rarely do when in my right mind.)

So last night I forced myself to go to bed around 10, and though I was awake in bed for a while, that was okay, because my mind turned toward the Marla Mason story I need to write (for the chapbook donor prize from the Broken Mirrors serial). I knew vaguely what it was about, but didn’t have any, you know, scenes, or characters, and now I have both. All that remains is the actual writing.

Which I won’t do for a while yet, as the boy and I are off to the Eat Real festival later today. Should be fun! And filling.

Kindling

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Broken Mirrors is now on sale for the Kindle! (And all those other devices that can read Kindle books. I’m working on other formats and venues. But it’s a start.)

My lovely wife is off to New York, as she’s in the wedding party of a certain World Fantasy Award nominated friend of ours (hi Susan!). Meanwhile, I’m here in California with the kid, enjoying this strange and brief window of actual summer weather. Solo parenting is rather more exhausting than team parenting, but the fact that my son is a total sweetheart helps. I took today as a vacation day, since he’s been stuck at my workplace three of my last four working days, and I didn’t want to drag him in there again. So instead: we’ll go to a park or two, and get some gelato, and go to the library, and otherwise have a nice time. Hope you all do, too.

Eyes, Heat, Steam

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

My son River’s exam under anesthesia last Friday went beautifully. His glaucoma hasn’t gotten worse at all, even though his last surgery was in 2008. Basically the best possible outcome. Yay! He wasn’t under long, so he woke up quickly, and wasn’t that groggy afterward. Apart from dilated pupils and light sensitivity, he was his old self again by late afternoon. He gets another check-up in 5 or 6 months, and they’re going to see if they can check him without putting him under. He might be old enough to deal with a strange guy poking at his eyes without freaking out.

Yesterday I spent about 11.5 hours at work, finishing up the September Steampunk issue of A Certain Magazine. Well, I wasn’t alone; my co-workers were there too. As was my child, known to twitter readers everywhere as Officebaby. It was a perfect storm of lousy timing: his preschool is closed for teacher prep week, and because his mom’s leaving town today, she had to go into her office yesterday to get some necessary work done, and couldn’t watch the kid.

I was, frankly, pretty worried about getting all the million end-of-issue things done with the kid there — but he was a perfect angel and a trouper. My managing editor’s ten-year-old daughter came in to do kid-watching duty, and played with him all day long. She even stayed in with him while he napped until he fell asleep. (And proceeded to sleep for about 3 hours — that was also very helpful!) When it became clear I was going to be at work past my son’s bedtime doing the final prep on the issue, my editor-in-chief gave the kid a ride home. The issue turned out great. It might be the coolest-looking of any of our special issues.

As a reward for being so good yesterday, River gets to do whatever he wants today. (He votes playground, ice cream, waterfight!) It’s the first truly hot day I’ve had off work all summer, but his doctor says he can’t go swimming because of his recent ear infection. We can play waterguns though! Should be a nice day.

But kind of a lonely week. My wife is soon off to New York for the wedding of a dear friend, and won’t be back for several days. We couldn’t really afford for both of us to go, and since my wife is the one in the wedding party, she wins. So I’ll be solo parenting for a while. Fortunately my mother-in-law will be in town later this week, so she’ll help some.

And, as recompense for my time spent solo parenting, my wife is letting me slip away for a rather long weekend over Labor Day. I’ll be going down to L.A. to stay with a friend for a few days on a sort of mini writing retreat, with the goal of getting ludicrous quantities of work finished on the novel I am (or, should be) writing. I’ve also got a couple of stories to write.

My serialization of Broken Mirrors was a huge success. I wrote a postmorten post with various details and final thoughts if you’re interested. The Kindle version should be available for sale in a day or two. I’ll be sending out fundraiser prizes over the next couple of months. For many of the prizewinners I need to wait until I get my finished copies, and get the chapbook printed (and *cough cough* written), so most prizes will go out in late September and October, probably. But all will ship by year’s end, as promised. It was a great adventure. Thanks to everyone who donated, read, and/or told their friends.

Last Day

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

I hope all of you are out enjoying a wonderful weekend day, but if you happen to be looking at your computer instead, let me note: this is the last day to donate to my online serial Broken Mirrors if you want to get fundraiser prizes. You have until midnight Pacific time — so about 13 hours from now — to get goodies, or to have your name listed in the acknowledgments of the book.

In two weeks I start posting my SF adventure novel The Nex, which will run for 18 weeks. And if you head over there now, you can read my novelette “Dream Engine”, which is set earlier in the same world, and shares some characters with the novel (though the main character, and narrator, of The Nex doesn’t appear).

My amazing, wonderful, beautiful, goddess-like wife took the kid out with her this morning and let me sleep in as late as I wanted. I have apparently lost the ability to sleep past 10 am. Or even 9:45, really. Still: incredible decadence. Hope you’re all having a similarly fine time.

Endings and Beginnings. Oh, and Middles.

Monday, August 16th, 2010

The final chapter of Broken Mirrors has been published! The end is upon us. Thanks to everyone who read. (If you want to donate and get fundraiser prizes, you only have a week left to do so. After that, I stop dispensing goodies.) E-book version will follow soon, and the print version will be along in a month or so, I think (assuming I finish going over the page proofs in time!).

Onward to the next project: I’m serializing my science fantasy adventure novel The Nex, starting on September 6. Though next week I’ll post my story “Dream Engine,” which is set earlier in the same world and shares some characters, to whet your appetites. Head over there and sign up for the RSS feed or whatever. This will once again be a reader-funded serial, so pay if you like. There are some fundraiser prizes, but not as many as I had for Broken Mirrors (for one thing, The Nex is shorter! Only 18 chapters/weeks. For another, it doesn’t have the accumulated cool stuff of four previous novels — artwork etc. — for me to give away!)

Now begins the Two Weeks Of Madness. We’re finishing up the September Steampunk issue of A Certain Magazine at work this week, so that’s busy. On Friday, my kid has an examination under anesthesia, which is always stressful. (Wish us luck, and hope for no need for surgery.) Next week Heather’s out of town all week for a wedding, so I’ll be solo parent. Aiee!

Over the weekend I realized the novel I’m writing was proceeding in entirely the wrong direction, so I had to throw out everything I’d written (not too much so far, fortunately) and start over from scratch. On the bright side, the writing should go more smoothly now that I’m on the right track. But I’ve got lots of writing ahead of me.

It was a pretty fun weekend, though. River’s ear infection is better, thanks to antibiotics. (Whoo science!) My lovely wife and I took the kid over to the old neighborhood on Saturday to visit the Farmer’s Market and play in the bounce house, which was great. We did a cookout last night — I grilled four different kinds of animal! One evening I had coffee with a local fan who was cool and fun to hang out with. (And, hey: free coffee.) So it’s not all stress and lost pages.

Not Ready for Crime Time

Friday, August 13th, 2010

Science fiction and fantasy are still totally the genres I love the most, and I seem to be incapable of writing stories myself that don’t involve monsters or ancient cults (who were actually really onto something) or weird gods or psychic powers or ghosts or shapechangers, but I’ve been majorly into reading crime fiction in the past year. Having read a couple hundred mystery/crime/etc. books I’m starting to figure out the stuff I like: nihilistic noir about loser criminals (James Cain! Jason Starr!), wisecracking private detectives (the better Spenser novels!), funny caper novels (Donald Westlake!), brutal caper novels (Donald Westlake as Richard Stark!), PIs with horrible personal problems (Ken Bruen! Lawrence Block!), and the occasional procedural novel as long it’s more about the personality of the cop than about, you know, procedure (Ian Rankin!). I’m also trying to read some of the foundational stuff in the genre. Hammett’s novels (in a handy-dandy Library of America omnibus) and his Continental Op stories, the aforementioned James Cain, etc.

It all makes me want to write crime novels. Of various kinds. But I want to read a few hundred more before I try my hand at the genre I think.

I’m also watching the Avatar: the Last Airbender series with my wife (steaming Netflix whoo), and we are in love with the show. It makes me want to write epic fantasy YA. So let me just add that to the to-do list. As if I don’t have enough to do. (This weekend I need to write 7,000 words and check over the page proofs for Broken Mirrors.)

Sometime soon I should be able to announce one or two or maybe all of the cool book projects I have on the horizon. Contracts exist and details are being worked out. Officialness approaches. Then there’s the fantasy series proposal I need to revise, and a couple of short projects I need to tackle… I’m actually busier than ever; it’s just not as readily apparent to the naked eye.

Tonight I plan to go to a cafe and read page proofs, because such endeavors benefit from vast quantities of coffee — and the inability to screw around online or watch TV or clean my kitchen instead of working.

All Is Clear

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

I’d catch you up on all the excitement in my life, but there’s not much: spent most of last weekend either having a sick kid or being sick myself. Took Monday off work for a festival of sleeping and healing that was mostly successful. I thought I was still sick on Tuesday, until it dawned on me around noon that I hadn’t actually eaten in about 24 hours. After consuming food I felt much better. Today I’m still kind of headachey and generally out-of-it, but I think that’s mostly leftover dehydration. Hope so, anyway.

Pretty much all I did in my conscious moments was read: Ian Rankin’s collection A Good Hanging, which was enjoyable, especially “Sunday”. I also read All Clear by Connie Willis, which concludes the big story she began in Blackout, though I sort of wish I’d re-read the first volume before diving in to the conclusion. It took me a while to remember what was happening in the various time periods covered, but I got up to speed eventually. She does some very cool and audacious stuff.

Yesterday, as I was feeling better, I took River over to Habitot, where he played with rocket ships and splashed water and painted and pretended to grocery shop and cook and did all the other fun stuff on offer there. Afterward we went to a diner for lunch — that was the point where I realized I was dizzy from lack of food — and he sat beside me in the booth. He watched people go by out the window and yelled “Hi people! I eating dinner!” He’s been a really sweet, cute, darling kid lately. We played a lot in the yard in the afternoon, too — digging in the dirt, which we call “Archaeology,” as we excavate cool rocks and such. Having a yard is so awesome. I don’t know how we managed for so long with a toddler in a fourth-floor apartment.

I have so much work to do that I can’t really afford to lose several days to illness, but that’s the way it goes. Just means I have to write more this weekend. At least it keeps me from being bored…

Penultimativity

Monday, August 9th, 2010

I’m home sick, having been given a lovely cold by my son, who was sick on Friday. He promptly got his mom sick, too, though she’s over her illness now as well… but I caught it last, and I’m still feeling it. At least I know I should be better in a day or so. I rose from bed to hydrate and eat something and figured I’d update here while I was temporarily vertical.

I just posted chapter 23 of Broken Mirrors, the penultimate chapter, which resolves the principle conflict between my main character Marla and her dark doppelganger the Mason. There’s still one chapter to go, though it’s more than mere falling action…

I’m considering putting up my unsold science fantasy The Nex as a serial/e-book. I think it’s a good book, even though none of the publishers I’ve sent it to want to buy it. It’s gotten lots of complimentary rejections, but the problem seems to be that despite having a young (12 years old) protagonist, it doesn’t really read like middle grade — it’s got lots of adult characters, for one thing. I grew up reading stuff like The Talisman, books where there were young characters but that weren’t necessarily meant for young readers. I may have created something along those lines. I didn’t set out to write a middle grade — it’s a genre I’m pretty ignorant about — and, well, it looks like I succeeded in not writing one!

It’s possible it didn’t sell for some other reason entirely. But I love the book a lot, and would like to see it find an audience. Anyone interested in a non-Marla Mason reader-funded serial from me? The novel is set in the world of my story “Dream Engine”. Could be fun.

Heaven on a Desk

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

As I write this, I am enjoying a small slice of heaven:

A cup of freshly-brewed Blue Bottle coffee.

A fresh-baked sweet corn muffin (which my two-year-old helped me bake — he’s good at stirring).

A dab of honey butter for the muffin.

Weekends are good.

Social Labyrinths

Friday, August 6th, 2010

It’s been an extremely social week, especially by my hermitlike standards. Had a great afternoon out and then dinner on Tuesday with my wonderful agent Ginger, who took my wife Heather and I to Limon, one of our favorite restaurants. Truffle mac and cheese oh my yum.

On Wednesday Heather and my boss and I all went up to Sonoma to have dinner at the indescribably lovely home of a certain poet (and former head of a major arts institution) with whom I’ve corresponded for years but had never met. A couple of prominent science fiction writers of my acquaintance were there, along with other fascinating people. (Afterward my wife noted that, given the people we’d met at the barbecue, we were now only a single degree of separation away from both George W. Bush and Jorge Luis Borges…)

Last night I had dinner with my producer friend Anne, who has the film/TV option for the Marla Mason series. There are no developments I can report, but she has many interesting irons in the fire. It was a pleasure to see her, too, as always, even if the service at the restaurant was so bad it was literally comical. (Like, order a vodka martini with a lemon twist and get gin with olives in it kind of bad. I stuck with beer — it’s hard to screw up beer. Even if you get the wrong beer, it’s still beer.)

I enjoyed every one of those outings, but my introvert tendencies are nevertheless happy that I’ve got no particular plans for the weekend besides writing, and can pretty much stay home.

***

There are only two weeks left before Broken Mirrors is over. Sadness! The last chapter goes up on August 16, and I’ll stop giving prizes for donations after August 22. (After that I’ll still happily take your money — you just won’t get signed books or prints or chapbooks or bookmarks or artwork or any of the other goodies.) The Kindle edition should go up right after the serialization is done, with other e-book formats to follow (I hope). And the print edition will be along later this fall. Whee!