Tim Pratt
SF and Fantasy Writer

Archive for April, 2011

In Which I Am Not Crushed

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

That thing people, especially writer types, do, where they say “I have good news but I can’t tell you!” Well, consider this that. Suffice to say my mood has been improved over its usual baseline in recent days. Details will be shared when I can, but, shock: it’s about a new book, and there’s some separate cool news involving existing books. But until contracts are signed, I keep quiet publicly when it comes to specifics.

My good mood hasn’t been that discernible, probably, because I’ve also been crushed by work. Now, I like work. I do. I get bored and restive and difficult to live with when I’m not working on some creative project. But as I mentioned earlier, I had a perfect storm whereby I received editorial letters (that is, a list of queries/concerns/demands for revisions from an editor) for two different novels from two different publishers within two days of each other. This was during the same week when I had to write a short story.

That week was last week.

As previously reported, I got the story written, and revised (still awaiting the editor’s verdict); the easier of the two novel edits was dealt with in a day or so, and has already met with the editor’s preliminary approval; and the more difficult set of edits took me pretty much every moment of my four-day weekend not spent parenting, holiday celebrating, or playing Portal 2. (A gift from my wife, and my reward after each long day of word-slog.) But that book, too, was finished, and sent back to the editor, though we may need another round to clear up any remaining ragged edges. Not sure yet. I also wrote the introduction for an ebook story collection by Michael Canfield, which I’ll point to when it’s available for sale. Anyway: I feel kind of epic, honestly, for getting all that stuff done. It was a pile of work so daunting that I literally, audibly whimpered when I first gazed upon it.

(Oh yeah: I also beat Portal 2, in single player mode. Good game. Haven’t tried co-op yet. Trying to convince my wife she’ll love it.)

I’m expecting edits on a third novel this week. I also have a short story deadline on May 15. I sort of know what the story’s about, but haven’t touched it yet. And my Pathfinder novel City of the Fallen Sky is due in 13 weeks. I maybe oughta think about starting that. I sure don’t have many chances to get bored.

Eleventine

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Taking a break from editing to do a little scribbling and catch-up here. My online journal turned 11 years old on April 20 — entirely coincidental that it shares a date with Stoner’s New Year, as I was always far more into ingestible hallucinogens than smokeable euphorics, but it does make the occasion easy to remember. Eleven years ago I was in Boone North Carolina, living at the house on Jake Miller Road with my friend D and the rest of the boys, trying to direct my life post-college-graduation, hoping to be a published writer someday. I’ve been documenting my life online, with varying degrees of completeness, for nearly a third of my life now. At some point the future happened. Now I’m just living in it.

The beginning of the week was a bit rough. My kid’s school is closed for spring break, and we had to finish the May issue of the magazine, so we had the combo of deadline pressure AND all-officeboy-all-the-time. He was pretty good, considering he was bored senseless much of the time and everyone was too busy to play with him much. We got the issue finished on Wednesday, and then: my four-day weekend began. (With Thursday my delayed day off, and today a holiday.) Oh bliss. Well, work-and-bliss.

Yesterday morning began inauspiciously. My son started the day by throwing up, but didn’t seem sick otherwise, and didn’t repeat the unpleasant exercise — still, it lent a tinge of worry to the morning. While the boy breakfasted and played and so on, I revised my story “We Go Back” and sent it off to the editor. Let’s hope it meets her liking. Then I turned my attentions to the beautiful day and set off with my son. We went to the library and the playground and the post office and got some groceries. Thanks to the existence of the $1 a scoop ice cream place (four quarters gets you a good-sized cone) I was able to bestow infinite joy on my child despite being pretty broke. He had a scoop of banana nut. Oh, to be three years old, with so many ice cream flavors yet to be tasted…

In the evening, after the kid fell asleep, I tackled the simpler of the two editorial letters in my inbox, and got one novel revised and sent back. One down, one to go. (At least until I get the third editorial letter I’m expecting, probably next week. A writer’s work is never done etc.)

The kid doesn’t seem sick today… but he woke up around 4:30 a.m. and couldn’t be coaxed back to bed for more than half an hour. So… a rather earlier start to the day than I’d envisioned. I decided to take advantage of all these unexpected hours by working on the other novel edits, but my brain is protesting. Coffee may be in order.

Double-Barreled Infection

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

The latest story in the Alphabet Quartet to be posted online is one of my faves: “N is for Nevermore Nevermore Land”. Subscribers to Daily Science Fiction got “O is for Obfuscation” in their e-mail today.

There are still some good things left in my big book sale, though various titles have sold out. I made enough yesterday to cover the shortfall in my tax bill and pay for the kid’s doctor appointment and medication — infections in both ears! — so thank you, thank you, thank you everyone who bought or spread the word. I’ll keep taking orders through tomorrow, probably, and will pack stuff up and mail it in the next few days.

My wife was also pleased to see the giant pile of books in our living room is now small enough that we can actually see the wall behind it. She wants to hang a picture there. Presumably to keep me from piling up more books later. Futile hope.

Despite all that time spent at the doctor yesterday, it was a good day off. The kid was in good spirits once he got some children’s Tylenol in him, and we did some grocery shopping and went to the library and ran around the park. I love my days with him. So glad I’m able to do that.

Life is about to get busy. I’m expecting editorial letters this month for Briarpatch, my Wizards of the Coast novel, and a pseudonymous book. So there are revisions in my future. I also have two short stories to write. (In my defense I’ve been thinking about them… but not so much writing.) Last weekend’s vacation was fun but, uh, yeah. Vacation’s over. Back to the pixel mines.

Big Book Sale 2011

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Just as I did two years ago, I’m throwing my shelves open to sell books. (Why? Well, I have taxes due in a week, and I just got word that a check I was expecting is going to be delayed for a couple of weeks, which will make ugly little minus signs appear in my checking account. Gotta fix that.) I’ve dug deep into my storage boxes for this one, so some of the quantities are extremely limited, and some of the works on offer are rare and unlikely to be seen for sale again.

The rules: most items are cover price (rounded up because pennies make me sad), and I’ll offer them signed or unsigned, inscribed or uninscribed, as you prefer. Add $4 shipping per book for mass market/pocket-sized paperbacks (and weird small stuff like magazines and chapbooks), $6 for trade paperbacks and hardcovers in the US. Non-US people: add an extra $5 for shipping.

Comment here or send an e-mail to timpratt at gmail dot com with a list of what you want to buy, whether you want it signed or personalized, etc. I’ll confirm whether or not everything you want is still available, and also confirm the total price. Then you can paypal me (timpratt at gmail dot com). Do e-mail or comment before sending money, since I’m selling things first-come-first-served.

Here’s what I’ve got (it’s a long list, but for some of them I have very limited copies):

  • Mass-market paperback of Blood Engines, $7 (9 6 copies available)
  • Mass-market paperback of Dead Reign, $7 (3 copies available) Sold out!
  • Mass-market paperback of Spell Games, $7 (1 copy available) Sold out!
  • Pocket-sized paperback of Bone Shop, $10 (1 copy available) Sold out!
  • Trade paperback of Broken Mirrors, $14 (1 copy available) Sold out!
  • Trade paperback of debut novel The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl, $12 (15 10 copies available)
  • Trade paperback of World Fantasy Award-nominated collection Hart & Boot & Other Stories, $15. (3 copies available) Sold out!
  • Trade paperback of collection Little Gods, $15. (This is the newer offset edition, which doesn’t include the poems that were in the original print-on-demand edition. 20 18 copies available.)
  • Hardcover of collection Little Gods, $30 (This is the original hardcover version, without text on the cover — the publisher wanted to showcase the admittedly awesome art — and including poems omitted from the later edition. 1 copy available.) Sold out!
  • Trade paperback of anthology Sympathy for the Devil, edited by me, with stories by better writers including Michael Chabon, Kelly Link, Stephen King, and Elizabeth Bear: $16 (12 8 copies available)
  • Trade paperback of poetry collection If There Were Wolves, $10 (1 copy available) sold out!
  • Chapbook of The Christmas Mummy, a holiday chapbook by Tim Pratt & Heather Shaw, $5 sold out!
  • Handmade ribbon-bound mini-chapbook 12 Haiku by Tim Pratt & Heather Shaw (this was a gift for guests at our wedding, never before offered for sale), $5 (7 2 copies available)

Now, some stuff that’s not by me, but that includes work by me:

  • A signed copy of the July 2006 issue of Asimov’s, including first publication of my Hugo-winning story “Impossible Dreams”, $5 (1 copy available) Sold out!
  • Trade paperback of The Best American Short Stories: 2005, edited by Michael Chabon, including my story “Hart & Boot”, $14 (2 copies available) Sold out!
  • Trade paperback of anthology Tel:Stories, edited by Jay Lake, including my story “Gulls”, $18 (1 copy available)
  • Trade paperback of anthology Best New Fantasy, edited by Sean Wallace, with my story “Gulls”, $13 (1 copy available)
  • Mass market paperback (UK edition) of anthology The Solaris Book of New Fantasy, edited by George Mann, including my Marla Mason story “Grander than the Sea”, $10 (1 copy available) Sold out!
  • Trade paperback of Twenty Epics, edited by David Moles & Susan Groppi, including my story “Cup and Table”, $20 (1 copy available) Sold out!
  • Trade paperback of Polyphony 5, edited by Deborah Layne & Jay Lake, including my story “The Crawlspace of the World”, $19.00 (1 copy available)
  • Trade paperback of Best of the Rest 3, edited by Brian Youmans, including my story “Annabelle’s Alphabet”, $14 (1 copy available)
  • Diet Soap #1, including my story “Observer Effects”, $5 (1 copy available)
  • Trade paperback of the 2005 Rhysling Anthology, including my Rhysling Award winner “Soul Searching”, $10 (1 copy available)

And for you cosmopolitan types:

  • Trade paperback of Sacrifices Divins, the French edition of Blood Engines, $20 (4 3 copies available)
  • Trade paperback of Hexengift, the German edition of Poison Sleep, $13 (4 copies available)

Buy early and tell your friends! The sale will run for a few days or until I run out of books, and I’ll ship things this weekend.

The Happiest Place In Anaheim

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

The long weekend in Southern California was pleasant and exhausting. We drove down on Thursday, spending about 7 hours in the car (with a couple of breaks). The kid was surprisingly tolerant of being strapped in a chair in a metal box on wheels for so long. We listened to podcasts and music and did a lot of singing. His favorite song is “Still Alive” (from the end credits of the great game Portal), and though I have two versions of the song, he only likes the one sung by the evil AI GLadOS, not the one sung by the actual songwriter, Jonathan Coulton. (As my son says: “I like the mommy one, not the daddy one.” Hilarious! On a related note, all men’s rooms are “Daddy bathrooms” and women’s rooms are “Mommy bathrooms.”) We got to our hotel in Anaheim and checked in and then braved the frigid afternoon for a swim in the pool. (Yes, the weather was cold, but: heated pool. And we could hardly deny the boy a chance to go swimming after he’d been so good on the long car ride.)

We rose early on Friday and headed straight for Disneyland, where for the next 12 hours our son was more or less constantly enraptured. Our friend Jenn joined us for the day, which was awesome. We had amazing line karma — I don’t think we waited more than 20 minutes to ride anything, and usually it was only 10 or 15 minutes. The kid loved everything we did, and nothing scared him — he loved Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Haunted Mansion, and even the hellscape in Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. (He was, however, so utterly terrified of the Pinocchio ride that he wouldn’t even go beyond the entryway. Who can explain the mind of a three-year-old?) We rode boats, and climbed into treehouses, and ate ice cream, and listened to music, and generally soaked it all in. By the end of the night, our boy caused a sing-a-long in line at the Dumbo ride by singing “Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.” (Which is quite adorable.)

Saturday was, if not so long a day, an equally full one. We drove down to Irvine to have breakfast with our friend Greg before my panel. Really wonderful eggs benedict, even better conversation, and overall a fine meal that was sadly ruined a bit when my kid puked all over me at the table. (He didn’t throw up again after that, and we’re not sure what caused it, as he seemed fine otherwise.) Once I got cleaned up, I walked over to the student center where Literary Orange was taking place, and immediately ran into Gail Carriger (who I’ve met once or twice before) and Eytan Kollin (who I hadn’t). We were whisked to the green room, where I eyed the array of pastries avariciously, but didn’t seize any, as I’d just been thoroughly breakfasted. The panel (with Eytan and his brother Dani, and Kay Kenyon, moderated by Michael Bricker) went pretty well, ranging across myriad subjects related to SF and publishing. I didn’t fall off the stage or inadvertently curse at anyone, so I consider it a success.

Then I signed a few books before slipping away to have lunch with my wife and kid and our friend Anne (who is also the producer working on bringing my Marla Mason novels to screens big and small). We hit a wonderful Vietnamese sandwich shop, where we all ate vast quantities of food for small quantities of money. No puke this time. Things were definitely looking up.

After we said goodbye to Anne, we drove over to Newport Beach and enjoyed the relatively warm weather, letting our kid play in the sand and splash for a long time. He made friends with a little girl about his age, and much racing and romping and chasing was had. After the beach we walked to a nearby playground and let him run himself around unto exhaustion. From there, back to the hotel, and more swimming, and a big meal of ordered-in Thai food, and collapse unto exhaustion.

Sunday we drove home. And really did very little else. A wonderful little working vacation, I must say, but re-entry into real life is going to be a bit bumpy…

Wishing Makes It So

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Great review of Welcome to Bordertown from Colleen Mondor at Bookslut! Here’s what she says about my humble contribution:

In Tim Pratt’s “Our Stars, Our Selves,” Allie Land, “lesbian future rock star for hire,” is offered one of those classic fairy tale boons — an actual wish for anything she wants. Of course she learns a lesson but not the one you’d think, and her decision is the least lame one I have ever read in the wish-accepting business. Belligerent and ballsy, Allie is a standout heroine.

Yeah, I’ll take that.

Our trip to LA for Literary Orange and Disneyland looms. Just have to get our key to the cat/housesitter and pack our bags and find the cooler and print out our maps and and and… So excited. It’s just four days, and a good 12-14 hours of it will be spent driving, but it’s the closest thing to a vacation we’ve had in ages, and I can’t wait.

Notes from a Weekend

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Yesterday I finished The Sorcerer’s House by Gene Wolfe, and found it to be entirely awesome. It has all the usual Wolfean unreliable narration, elision, indirection, misdirection, and nested weirdnesses, but in an altogether more accessible mode than in many of his other books. It was quite a page-turner. (I was a bit trepidatious about reading it, since I have an idea for a book that involves someone inheriting a house owned by a sorcerer, but I was pleased to find pretty much zero overlap between the things I’m thinking about and the things he did. Though of course my book won’t be as good as his; because he is Gene Wolfe.)

***

My wife banged her head at the playground on Friday, hard enough to make her nauseated, and has been a bit woozy ever since. (A visit to the emergency room and a scan of her head indicate no lasting damage or blood on the brain, but they think she got a concussion, and she may suffer aftereffects for days or weeks afterward.) A bit scary, but she’s all right.

We had a picnic in the park on Saturday, enjoying the insanely warm weather. (It’s been in the 80s in recent days.) The picnic was our kid’s idea, actually, so we packed up sandwiches and hummus and fruit and cheese and other goodies, spread our blanket on the grass, and had a wonderful lunch before setting the boy loose on the playground.

***

Did I mention I turned in that book that was due on April 1? I did. My wife read it last week and spared me from some terrible continuity errors. She continues to make me look smarter than I am. Glad that’s done. Next on the to-do list is a new short story, which I started plinking away at on Sunday.

***

Wife and kid went to Wondercon on Sunday. There’s photographic evidence: My son on the Iron Throne, with my wife as the power behind the throne. (He dressed as a pirate for the con. Though he debated about going as a monkey, or a monkey-pirate hybrid, as revealed in this brief video.) After they got home, I took the kid for a long walk around Berkeley, ending up at a playground, where instead of building sandcastles he dug sanddungeons. Or maybe sandoubliettes. (Seriously: dig a hole, put toys inside, cover hole with the lid of a bucket, and finally cover lid with sand, making the hole invisible.)

A good weekend. They usually are. And next weekend, we’ll be in LA for the Literary Orange festival, and Disneyland, and swimming in the hotel pool, and going to the beach, and so forth. Should be glorious.