Jenn Reese designed the covers for “Life in Stone” and “Hart and Boot” (and for some of my upcoming e-stories too). She’s an awesome designer, and I’m lucky to have her work make my fiction look good.
Archive for May, 2011
So much news, really, it’s a bit ridiculous.
Cool things: Jessica Almasy will be the narrator again, as she was on the first four audiobooks in the Marla Mason series. And! Audible has commissioned Dan Dos Santos to do new, original covers for the audiobook editions, so there will be consistent cover art for all six volumes. I am SO EXCITED. I talked to Dan a bit last week about possibilities for illustrations, and he has some fantastic ideas. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with.
No idea when the audiobooks will be available. (I mean, they have to actually record them and everything.) You’ll know when I do.
In new fiction news… A bit over a week ago I wrote a story, “The Secret Beach,” at a playground while my kid napped in his stroller. Most of the stories I write these days are commissioned and written with a specific market in mind, but this was like the old days: an idea, some images, a few phrases, a character, and just writing as fast as I could. I typed it up that night, revising as I went; did a couple of read-throughs to clean up the language; got my wife’s opinion; sent it off. Six days after I wrote the first line, I had an acceptance: look for it in a future issue of Fantasy Magazine. Yay! I had a story in their first issue, back when they were still print. It’s nice to be back. (That was actually the second place I submitted the story — the first gave me a “close but not quite.” Rejections never stop entirely, y’all, but they mostly stopped stinging after the first two hundred or so.)
My Memorial Day weekend has been spent largely in thrall to my novel Briarpatch, making what are (I hope) the last changes before it goes to copyedits. Lots and lots of little things, and a few big things, and it’s a better book for it. Draining work, though. I still love this book. My most personal novel since Rangergirl. I’m glad you’ll all get to read it.
I also laid down a few words on City of the Fallen Sky, which is moving along nicely, if not quite quickly enough. I still have two months to finish. It’s enough, but it won’t leave me much time for video games or TV show marathons in the evenings. After that deadline, I have six months before another book is due, so I’ll be able to take it easy in the back half of the year.
Unless some irresistibly interesting project presents itself…
Allow me to settle comfortably into my position as arbiter of all law and taste. Let the band name selection begin!
First, wow. What an astonishing outpouring of great ideas. Here are a few of my favorites — call them “Honorable Mentions” or “tied for first-runner-up.”
- Ahimsa: “The Split Infinitives”
Sasha: “Edgy hedgehogs” [I like it partly because it reminds of Hedge, the bassist for the band in Emma Bull's great novel War for the Oaks]
Ken: “Vampires with Amplifiers”
Dot Hutchison: “Demented Velociraptor”
Mia MacHatton: “Seven Chicken Nightmare” [I think I've eaten that]
Alyx Dellamonica: “High Chance of Gore”
Caio Marinho “The High-Z Supernova Search Team”
ClaireBear: “The Monstrous Regiment”
merkusa: “The Bootless Noobs” [And ellise's spoonerized response, "Newtless Boobs."]
Continuity: “Schrödinger’s Yeti.”
Pamela D. Lloyd: “Kate and the Crackernuts”
amber: “robot spelling bee”
enui_iune: “Joyce and the Defenestrators”
kythiaranos: “Pimpish Wit”
Dayle Dermatis’s “Petty Teenage Love Triangle” [I was in a couple of those]
I also appreciated Gary’s entries, with references to many of my books:
- “Bride of Death” “The Jump Engines”, “The Nex Big Thing”, “The Masonites.” But flattery will get you nowhere! (Well, this time. Usually it’s a pretty good route.)
Some Bordertown contributors made great suggestions, but must be excluded, on the basis that they’ll get a copy of the anthology anyway:
- Ellen Kushner’s “Rivendell 9-1-1″ and Jane Yolen’s “First Star to the Right”
But there can be only one winner, and so, after much deliberation, I have chosen:
Michelle John: “Ophelia Dreaming”
Mostly because it sounds like a band I could imagine playing one of the clubs in Bordertown. Michelle will win a copy of Welcome to Bordertown — but fear not. The rest of you can get one, too. You just have to buy it or hit the library. Everyone wins!
People! I am throwing a contest. You can win a copy of Welcome to Bordertown, the awesome anthology that’s relaunching the beloved shared-world contemporary fantasy series.
My story “Our Stars, Our Selves” features a would-be rock star, and in recognition of that fact, here’s what you do to win:
Give me your best imaginary name for a band.
That’s it. Leave your ideal imaginary band name in the comments here, any time between now and midnight Pacific time on Friday, May 20th. I will choose my favorite (I dare not say “the best”), and the winner will be sent a copy of the anthology. One entry per commenter, please. (If I am utterly torn and unable to choose among the top contenders, I will apply some sort of randomization to determine the winner from that pool.) Do include an e-mail of some kind so I can contact you in case you win.
(Fake band names only, please. The point isn’t to promote your emocore shoegaze string quartet, no matter how cool your name is, though of course I wish you the best of luck.)
I mean, I assume everyone else is like me and my friends, in that every time you utter or encounter an unusual phrase, you immediately declare, “That’s going to be the name of my next band.” (I’ve named lots of fictional bands, from Allison Wonderland to Feral Sex Herd to Vicodin Love Confession — though I had to take that last one out of a novel when an actual band started using it as their name.) Now you can turn that band-naming impulse into sweet free book profit!
Last week was drama-tastic. On Monday River had a mid-playground head-on collision with another kid at preschool. He got a pretty bad gash, possibly from the frame of his glasses cutting into his flesh. I had to pick him up and take him to the hospital so his head wound could be treated. The pediatrician initially thought she could glue the cut over his eye closed, but, nope, they deemed it too deep, so we were sent to the Emergency Room. He got three stitches. Poor kid. He was a trouper, though. The doctor and nurse were prepared for a problem child. I tried to tell them, “No, he’ll be fine, he had his first surgery at four months old and many since, he’s not scared of doctors or medical procedures.” But the doctor said, “He’s going to kick and writhe like crazy when I inject the local anesthetic,” and they swaddled him in a sheet and had the nurse and I hold him down. All unnecessary, of course, as he was hardly bothered a bit. He actually fell asleep while the doctor was stitching up the wound. Tough little guy!
Then on Tuesday night he got an upset stomach and puked a lot, so I stayed home with him on Wednesday to make sure he was better. Not fun, but it was even less fun for him than it was for me. Fortunately by the weekend he was our usual happy guy again, and he got the stitches out on Friday. He’ll have a small scar. I told him to tell everyone he got it saving a puppy from bikers.
I’m a bit over 10,000 words into my Pathfinder Tales novel City of the Fallen Sky, most of that written over the weekend, and it’s going well. Writing from a detailed outline is odd, and contrary to my usual make-it-up-as-I-go approach, but it’s working out. I had a couple of false starts on this book, but I’ve settled into a voice that seems to work. And now it’s a tenth of the way done! (Maybe even a ninth.) I’m a lot less panicked now. Indeed, I’m a fairly cheerful guy in most respects. (This probably means something awful will happen soon.)
The weekend wasn’t all spent writing. David Moles came over for dinner one night, and Heather made an awesome pasta dish with leeks and eggs and bacon, yum. We drank beer and wine and chatted about life and books and other good things. I’m seldom social these days — both busy and reclusive, but it was nice to have a friend over.
During dinner a guy knocked on the door to tell me he was going to be renting the upstairs apartment and using it as a halfway house for a rotating cast of homeless men, and wanted to make sure I’d be okay with that, and that if I had any problems, I’d talk to him, and not bother the landlord. (This worried me, as it seems like the kind of thing you say when you’re anticipating problems, and don’t want word of said problems getting back to the landlord.) I responded with a resounding, “Uhhhh….” I talked to the landlord later, and he said the guy hadn’t even put in an application yet, and had made no mention during their conversation about using the place in such a way, and that he wasn’t interested in renting the place out for such a purpose.
I felt kind of bad for my reaction — I don’t want to be all “not in my backyard,” and finding housing for the homeless is a noble thing, but I do have a very trusting three-year-old who spends a lot of time running around literally in my backyard, and the prospect of a shifting group of strangers coming in and out of the place upstairs — with which we share that yard — would have given me a lot of stress and worry and anxiety. (A homeless guy, or a homeless family, no problem — but the halfway house aspect, with new people coming in and out, was troubling.)
I’m selfishly glad it’s not something I’ll have to deal with, but I’m also reminded how lucky I am to be able to worry about stuff like that instead of, say, having a place to sleep at night.
I’m experimenting with selling some individual short stories as e-books for 99 cents, starting with my Hugo Award winner “Impossible Dreams”. I’ll try to put more up, once or twice a week, for Kindle and the Nook. (The Nook version of “Impossible Dreams” isn’t ready yet; I’ll link when it is.)
My friend Tobias S. Buckell is doing the same thing (here, go buy his “Aerophilia”), as is Sarah Prineas (now go buy her “The Red Cross Knight”). So that’s 3 great stories (well, two great stories, and one of mine) for under three bucks.
Better than a small latte, I bet, and more nourishing.
This weekend, I have… a few things to do. I need to write a short story. (I am telling myself I will keep it short. 3K-5K words. Brevity is not my strength, but I am going to try.) I also need to get some momentum going on this novel that’s due in August, as so far I’ve just been plinking away at it in a distracted way. It has a pretty extensive outline, at least, so I should be able to get a goodly number of words down. I’ve been absorbed in reading Joe Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy in every spare moment, so I haven’t been writing as much as I should. But I finished reading that last night, and now I can devote my full attention to my own fictional world. (Or rather, my contribution to the fictional world of the Pathfinder Tales.)
Speaking of the First Law: wow, is that a bleak series. There’s some nice camaraderie among the protagonists (not, mostly, “heroes”) earlier, especially in the second book, but those rays of sunshine largely vanish in book three, and things get harsh. I mean, George Martin is famous for ruthlessly murdering characters you care about, but Abercrombie doesn’t even always give his characters the sweet release of death — they just get trapped in horrible ongoing situations that they can only bear by going to great lengths of self-deception. (Then again, they’re better off than all the little people who just get shot with arrows or eaten by cannibals or crushed by falling rocks.) That’s not to say I didn’t like the series — I did, immensely — but wow. Nice guys finish last and evil guys don’t do much better.
I especially like Abercrombie’s inversion of the “wise old wizard” trope. Powerful immortals would almost certainly be vicious uncaring bastards, after all. And he really plays with notions of “good” and “evil,” especially in the follow-up standalone Best Served Cold (which I read first, though I don’t recommend doing so, as it provides some spoilers for the trilogy, being set a few years afterward). The powerful oppositional figures pulling the strings in his world aren’t “good” and “bad,” any more than two chess players are. But it sure sucks to be a pawn… Nothing left to read now but The Heroes, then I’ll be stuck like everyone who’s been reading him from the beginning, waiting 18 months between books. Long may he write.
Sunday is Mother’s Day, so I won’t be working too much then. I’ll take my wife to get some brunch and then we’ll do something fun as a family (as per my wife’s request). It’ll be a nice break from writing about my own crew of vicious fantasy bastards. (Actually, only one is really vicious. Another is a self-absorbed know-it-all, and the last has a certain flexible morality.)
People! The signed, numbered, limited edition hardcover — a mere 150 copies — of my upcoming novel Briarpatch is now available for pre-order. Let’s make this thing sell out, shall we? (Don’t worry, there will be a cheaper trade paperback edition if the $50 price tag is too much. But it won’t be as PRETTY. Or signed.)
Compared to the brutal brutality of endless work I wrote about last time, the past few days have been quite mellow. Worked a bit on my novel City of the Fallen Sky, wrote a review of Mira Grant’s Deadline for A Certain Magazine (short form: go read it, after you read the first book in the series, Feed), and did a personal essay about why I’m so excited to be in Welcome to Bordertown which will appear, uh, somewhere, at some point. I also got a mental handle on the story that’s due May 15, so I should be able to draft it soon.
Got a good chunk of money from France for the first two Marla Mason books. Used it to pay down credit card debt. We’re broke again, now — but the hole we’re in is just that much shallower. The goal for the next couple of years is to murder debt. Every book I write is a step in that direction.
Readingwise, I’m almost done with Joe Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy. Then all I’ll have left of his to read is The Heroes. Sob! What gritty-fantasy-with-minimal-magic should I read next? (I asked the same thing on twitter yesterday and got some good suggestions.) I’ve read K.J. Parker’s oeuvre, and await the next George R.R. Martin, but beyond that, I’m looking for more.
My nephew (8 years old) stayed with us for a couple of days. We took him and River to Adventure Playground over by the marina: a fenced-in lot full of scrap wood, bits of metal, barrels, broken rowboats, old tires, sheet metal, rope, and other stuff, where the kids build their own play structures. Pretty awesome. My nephew adores the zipline. River is too young to do any building, but he painted a bit and climbed on some of the multi-story kid-built edifices and generally marveled at everything. We had a picnic and splashed a bit in the waters of the bay too. A nice afternoon out. It’s pretty much summertime here. Oh, May, you’re very welcome after all that rain. Loveliness abounds.