Tim Pratt
SF and Fantasy Writer

Archive for September, 2011

A Moon-Colored Bridge

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

One of the central images in my new novel Briarpatch is a bridge silver as the moon, glimpsed at various times by various characters. So imagine my delight when I took the dustjacket off the limited edition hardcover and saw this:

Briarpatch hardcover

A silver bridge embossed on the boards!

The endpapers, designed by Samantha Beiko, are gorgeous too:

endpapers

The limited edition was only offered for pre-orders, so unless you already ordered one, you’re probably out of luck. Behold what you’re missing! This is the first novel I’ve ever had in hardcover, and it’s so pretty. I’m a happy writer.

Reasons To Be Generous

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Some of you gave to my Kickstarter. Isn’t kickstartering addictive? Here are some interesting projects by wonderful people you might consider supporting:

North Carolina-based SF magazine Bull Spec has just three days left in their fundraiser to pay for their third year. (I’ve published work there, and hope to again!) They do great work, and are worthy of your support.

Tobias S. Buckell is doing a Kickstarter for The Apocalypse Ocean, latest novel in his Xenowealth series. Toby’s in kind of the same situation I was — he had a series from a major publisher, and though that publisher has declined to do further books, he still has stories to tell set in that universe, and fans who want to read them. He’s got 22 days to go.

Mary Anne Mohanraj is running a Kickstarter for Demi-Monde, an erotic SF story suite, which has a couple of weeks to go. Mary Anne’s a legend, writer of one of the first blogs on the ‘net (back when they were called online journals or diaries), author of SF and erotica and literary fiction, and founder of more magazines and literary organizations than you’d believe. (Also a hell of a cook, but that’s not really relevant here.)

Speaking of Mary Anne… she was the founder and original editor-in-chief of online magazine Strange Horizons, which published some of my earliest stories. (And has published me more recently too. I should send ‘em more stories.) SH is running their fall fundraiser right now. (Not on Kickstarter, but hey: giving is giving.) They’ve been publishing great fiction, poetry, and reviews for over a decade — but they can’t keep doing it without your help.

Take a look, and help put the “fun” in “crowdfunding!” (And also the “fund.” That part’s important too.)

Foods!

Monday, September 26th, 2011

We went to a lovely birthday party on Saturday, for one of River’s school friends. We like the parents a lot (they came to River’s birthday last year), they have a beautiful house, they did a treasure hunt for the kids, and they fed us deep dish pizza and good ice cream. Normally children’s birthday parties are fun for the kids and not that scintillating for adults, but this one was a really good time.

And Sunday, we went to the Eat Real festival! It was raining intermittently, and cool, which made me happy, because that meant: it would be less crowded. But it wasn’t raining much, and it was gentle rain when it did, so it was mostly quite nice to wander around and eat the world. We tried many things: pulled pork, cupcakes, meatloaf-bacon sandwich, falafel sandwich, fish taco, and my eternal always favorite, Fat Face Popsicles, where I got my yearly fix of a Thai Iced Tea and Sweet Potato popsicle. (And shared an awesome Lime and Avocado popsicle with my wife and kid.) Not to be all internet-cliche, but: nom. (We weren’t that gluttonous — we shared things, portions are small, etc. The point is to sample many things, and oh, we did.)

Our friend Gail (sister of our friend Karen!) had her Liba Falafel food truck there, and we chatted a bit with her — and she gave River a little tour of the truck’s kitchen! He loves helping us cook at home (and is basically a tiny aspiring chef who’s always making pretend pies and cookies from bubbles, play doh, and mud), so he was excited, and thought it was really cool.

Plus, he got to dance around to live music, and that’s always good.

Then I came home and worked on Grim Tides a bit (I haven’t quite hit 30,000 words yet, but I should by tomorrow night), and wrote a scene where Marla has lunch at the amazing Mama’s Fish House in Maui. Gah now I want to go back there so badly. At least I can feed imaginary characters their lobster guacamole and stuffed mahi mahi.

Antiquation

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

My novelette “Antiquities and Tangibles” is up at Subterranean. This is the “happiness story” I’ve mentioned before, and I think it’s one of the better things I’ve written in a while. Read it, please. I hope you like it.

There’s a good review of Welcome to Bordertown at Strange Horizons. Nice words:

Tim Pratt rocks the hell out of “Our Stars, Our Selves,” wherein Allie Land, lesbian lead singer of the outfit “Allison Wonderland” is hilariously pursued by a poser elf-lord… Pratt’s prose sizzles.

Yeah, I’ll take that.

Briarpatch is available in e-book form! In assorted delicious formats!

Eleventy!

Friday, September 16th, 2011

The Grim Tides Kickstarter is done! I raised $11,241.00. That’s a pretty good advance, you guys. Better than I’ve gotten for any of the other novels I’ve sold in the past few years. Thanks to everyone who donated or spread the word. I am so happy to be writing more about Marla, and getting paid for it. This will help with the kid’s preschool tuition and pay down the ever-present hospital bills, and we should be able to take a bite out of the family debt. (And have a nice meal or two as well.) Life is good!

Last night I crossed 20,000 words on the first draft of Grim Tides. Since the Marla novels run around 85,000 words, that’s pretty much a fourth of a book! Since it seems likely the whole thing will be written by the time I start serializing it in January, I may update with two chapters a week instead of one, on Mondays and Wednesdays. So the whole thing would be posted over three months or so, instead of six. What do you think?

The Big Day

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

This is a big day:

The Kickstarter for Grim Tides ends at a minute before midnight tonight. This is it. Now or never time. (Well, okay, I’m sure I’ll have a PayPal button up when it’s serialized, for anyone who wants to give then. But why wait?)

And: My new book Briarpatch is out today (in theory; it’s still listed as pre-order status at some sites, but order it anyway, and it oughta be along soon). You can order a copy at Amazon or Powell’s or a bunch of other places. Please do. This is my baby. Most ambitious thing I’ve ever published. I want people to read it.

And: Quarterly estimated taxes are due today. Farewell, savings account! Nice knowing you!

In Which I Encounter Wildlife

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Tuesdays are trash days at work. (That also used to be my day off; I didn’t have to help take out trash and recycling for ages. It was awesome. Oh well.) Yesterday we all forgot to do trash, until I was the last one in the office. At 5:25 a co-worker called, having remembered, so I sighed a heavy and long-suffering sigh and said, “Oh, I’ll do it.”

I gathered all the recycling and lugged it outside to the big gray bin. I gathered all the trash and lugged it out to the trash can. Then I picked up the little green pail of organic waste, took it to the big green waste recycling bin, lifted the lid…

And saw a filthy, shit-covered, terrified, twenty-pound raccoon staring up at me. I shouted profanity and jumped back about a few feet, letting the lid fall closed. Then I pondered my options. Leave it as a surprise for the trash guys in the morning? Open the lid again and risk getting a face full of leaping terror with needle teeth streaked with panic feces? (Keep in mind: I had to pick up my kid by 6 o’clock in order to avoid a $10-per-minute late charge at the preschool, a 15-minute drive away, so I had a ticking clock situation.)

Eventually I just gently tipped over the bin, flipped open the lid with a broom handle from a safe distance… and waited. The raccoon didn’t come out, its nightmare of confinement now made even more scary by the arrival of a roaring giant. So I banged on the can a bit to encourage it, and that just made it crawl deeper inside. I stood around for a while and tried to make myself unobtrusive and eventually the raccoon scurried out, caught sight of me, freaked out, and ran into the neighbor’s walled yard.

Who knows how long it had been trapped in there — less than a week, surely, but otherwise…

While I was picking up the green bin (and finally throwing out our old eggshells and coffee grounds), a large female deer wandered up from the woods and stood about four feet away from me, as if expecting to be hand-fed. We see deer a lot here in the hills, but they tend to be a lot more skittish than that. I said, “S’up, deer?” And the deer walked off, also into the neighbor’s walled yard. I was like, “Is there a Disney princess in there or something?”

In fact, the whole experience of my workplace has the flavor of a Disney movie, as directed by David Lynch. I know that, sounds extreme. But I haven’t mentioned the insane pregnant squirrel who lives in our plum tree. One of my co-workers has been feeding the squirrels peanuts, which has made them fat, complacent, and confident. But the pregnant squirrel has gone mad, and is so aggressive she chases people up the stairs, stands on the thresholds of doors chittering wildly, and will occasionally rear up on her hind legs and gaze at us through the sliding glass doors for minutes at a time like an obsessed stalker. The other day she came at me frantically, so I tried to shoo her with a broom, and she started climbing up the broom. I ended up having to shove her right off the edge of the deck, where she promptly ran up a tree and started screaming at me.

Next time, I’m getting help to take out the trash.

Oracular

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

In the Marla Mason books, there are characters who can summon oracles to answer questions, provide direction, and interpret prophetic dreams — all for a price, which varies from the minor to the major, depending on the magnitude of the service rendered.

They are crazy fun to write.

I’ve had a minor god of disease emerge from a trash can, a ghost in a drain, a demon named Murmurus who demanded old books in exchange for answers, and the djinn from my story “Unfairy Tale” summoned from a jar of ancient wine, among others. In Grim Tides so far I’ve got a dark sea-god in the form of an immense puhi (moray eel), and I think I’m going to drag up the disemembered ghost of Captain Cook pretty soon, specifically to warn about an invasion by outsiders. I’m hoping to work in a third oracular appearance (threes are always good), possibly one where the summoner gets a MUCH bigger supernatural figure than they wanted or expected — maybe Pele, or Lono, or Uli.

I just love the opportunities for weirdness presented by these oracles, and they’re good for setting things up in the plot — and cryptic foreshadowing is my favorite kind.

Gettin’ My Stroll On

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Busy weekend. I had lunch with Nick Mamatas on Saturday, then interviewed him for a future issue of A Certain Magazine. It was my first time interviewing an author (though I’ve sat in on a few interviews), and I think it went all right. Nick doesn’t hesitate to voice strong opinions (I know! You’re shocked!), which helps.

Heather took our son to the circus that morning, so when they got back in the afternoon, I gave her a reprieve from parenting, and the boy and I went for a long walk, stopping for ice cream cones and then trekking to Totland in North Berkeley, where he played with appropriate frenzy. (I realized later that, with the trip to lunch and back, and to Totland and back, I walked seven miles on Saturday. I like walking.)

We went to the Solano Stroll on Sunday. (It’s a fairly epic street fair.) The kid rode lots of rides, and rode his first pony, and we all ate the sort of food that one generally enjoys in the moment and only later comes to regret — garlic fries, Italian sausage, greasy pizza slices, etc. Heather’s Aikido school was there, so she and the kid did a fair amount of flipping around and somersaulting on the mat while I finished reading Hunter S. Thompson’s The Curse of Lono. (I might have to give his Samoan war club a cameo in my next novel.) A pleasant afternoon all ’round.

Didn’t write a ton (obviously, being busy), but I managed to finish chapter four of Grim Tides. This book has my favorite villain ever.

And speaking of: only three days left for the Grim Tides Kickstarter. Prizes, people! You can get prizes!

Tidal Forces

Friday, September 9th, 2011

The good people at Kickstarter have made Grim Tides the Project of the Day today, which is very cool. Only six days to go. (So if you’re sick of hearing me talk about the Kickstarter — I’m almost done!)

I wrote another couple thousand words of the book last night, and now the first three chapters are done, at least in lumpy first drafts. Last night I set up some truly vicious villain stuff. My general goal is to do at least a thousand words a day during the week, and 2k a day on weekends. As long as I can average about 10,000 words a week, I’ll be happy — that would be a draft by Halloween, basically, and it’s a non-murderous pace. It’s so fun to be back in this world, playing with these characters again, and making their lives miserable.

I finally found a way to use a villain I’ve been mentioning in the novels for years, so that’ll be fun. It’s a big bad as dangerous as the Mason from Broken Mirrors, but with a radically different personality and approach.

The only downside is, writing this book makes desperately want to return to Hawai’i, which I can’t afford (in terms of time or money, really) just now. Oh well. I’m planning to take my wife on a vacation there for her (mumble) birthday in 2013, so it’s something to look forward to.