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Month: October 2011

Sandy Aygo

At WFC I did readings and met with editors and saw friends and went to parties and drank only slightly too much and interviewed an awesome writer for my day job and bought some books and finished writing a book, but that’s all standard con report stuff, and I’ve said it all or variations before. Instead I’ll tell you how the con was for my son River:

River was disappointed that there wasn’t more sand in San Diego. (I mean, as he pointed out, it’s right there in the name.)

He was also really quite angry that we were flying United instead of Southwest, because the Southwest planes are more colorful. (He asked one of our friends “what plane you fly on?” and when the reply was “Southwest,” he rounded on me and said accusingly, “I told you they come to San Diego!”)

He approved of the golf cart transportation at the hotel.

He hung out with our friend Sarah for a while, and was very enamored of the game they played, where they pretended to be lions and jumped out to scare passers-by. He later jumped out of the bathroom to scare his babysitter when she arrived.

He consistently called the dealer’s room the “Boring Room” but he liked the art show. We let him pick out a print; he went with a picture of a kitten and a baby dragon.

Mostly his days were spent hanging out in the pool, where he rode a giant inflatable dragon. He also enjoyed running around a couple of afternoon parties. He got a couple of autographs from writers, which delighted him. He collected postcards and bookmarks with a certain amount of zeal. He met a little girl two days younger than himself and ran in circles with her in the registration area.

We got a babysitter on Saturday night so Heather and I could both go out. He was strenuously opposed to having a babysitter — until she showed up with a bag full of toys. Then he looked at me and said, “Dada, why you still here? When you going?”

Things you can do with a (nearly) four-year-old around 6 am in the vicinity of the Town & Country hotel in San Diego: Ride up and down elevators. Throw a penny in a fountain. (He wished for a dinosaur, and was disappointed when a dinosaur didn’t materialize. I told him a dinosaur could take a while.) Walk across the bridge to the mall, pausing to marvel over the slimy water and to count ducks. Wander around an empty mall and peer in windows. Eventually, ride the trolley a few stops away and then back again, because preschoolers like trains.

While we were at lunch with our friend Greg, River said, “Do you want a cookie, or a diaper?” I said, “Uh, a cookie.” He said, “We’re all out of cookies, but we still have diapers.” It was like he’d independently created Eddie Izzard’s “Cake or Death” sketch.

River and my wife came to my reading. After 15 or 20 minutes, Heather wanted to leave, and told River they were going. He said, “Won’t that embarrass Daddy?”

One morning he was playing pretend on the bed and said to me, “I’m the king’s driver!” I said, “Way to aim high, kid.” Later he was jumping on the bed (we let him jump on hotel beds, because we are terrible people), and he said, “I’m the king of the jumpers!” I said, “That’s better.”

He dragged me away from Daryl Gregory’s (awesome) book launch party to hang out with him in a gazebo. He said to me, very matter-of-factly, “A gazebo is a kind of animal.”

And that was WFC!

Me at World Fantasy

World Fantasy! It’s so soon! If you’ll be there, and you want to see me read some things, that can be arranged:

I’ll read a tiny bit at the ChiZine Publications party on Friday night, at 8 p.m. in the Lanai Suite.

I actually got a reading slot on the program (whee!). That’s Saturday at 10 a.m. in Pacific 4/5. Drag your hungover bodies in there!

I’ll also take part in the Fantasy Magazine group reading at 3 p.m. on Saturday, room TBD.

We’re bringing our kid to the convention, so my wife and I will be splitting up childcare, which means I won’t be in the bar as much as I might like — I imagine I’ll be in the pool with my son more often than I’ll be drinking with my colleagues. I am doing some other convention-related stuff — I’m doing an interview with an author for Locus, and have a couple of meals scheduled — and there are a couple of parties I hope to attend. I’ll be around.

Rangergirl In Your Ear

A while back my agent Ginger suggested trying to create an audiobook of my debut The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl. She wanted to try out this new program, ACX (audiobook creation exchange), where people who have books can connect with narrators and producers, with the resulting book offered for sale on Amazon,, and iTunes. (The rightsholder can pay the narrator, or offer a split of any royalties from sales — as the latter requires no financial risk for me, I found it most appealing!) My agent did most of the heavy lifting in terms of setting up our account, and last week I tweeted about the situation and pointed people toward the audition script. We had three great auditions within a few hours, and since they were all from people I like and admire, I made my agent pick.

Rangergirl is going to be an audiobook — narrated by author and performer extraordinaire Mary Robinette Kowal. If all goes well, I expect the audiobook will be available for sale next spring. I’m crazy excited. Mary’s a great reader, and I think she’s a good fit for the material too. Yay!

Crawl Before You Can Walk

It is a cornerstone of my personality that I don’t like to go places or do things. (This is not entirely true; I like going to brunch, and Hawaii, and I enjoy doing readings occasionally, but mostly, I’m hermitlike by nature and action.) So this was a very eventful weekend for me. On Saturday I did a mini-panel discussion with recent Clarion West grad Mark Pantoja at CIIS in San Francisco, talking to a class of writers and artists about Kickstarter (the professor has been talking to the class about “autonomous practices” for artists lately; basically now to succeed outside the existing publishing infrastructure, engage with readers directly, etc.). It was a good class with smart questions, and we had an hour and a half, so it was even possible to move beyond the very broadest strokes and get into nuances a bit.

After the class I came back home to give my wife a little childcare break. (She heroically took the kid to a farm/pumpkin patch for many hours in the morning.) The boy and I spent most of our time exploring the back yard, playing “archaeology” (burying toy dinosaurs and digging them back up again), looking at spiders, and so on. Four years old is a great age. (Well, he’s actually still three, but only for three more weeks.)

In the evening I hopped on a train back to San Francisco to see a bit of LitCrawl. I hit Borderlands and saw Richard Kadrey, Thomas Roche, and Naamen Tilahun read (alas, Ray Garton was ill, and couldn’t make it). The store was packed and hot as a blast furnace, but the readings were good. Afterward I headed next door to the Borderlands Cafe, which I had never seen before (see above re: not going places or doing things) — what a fantastic space! It’s gorgeous. Specialty store + awesome cafe = Tim Pratt’s Ideal of Heaven.

Best of all, the spot where we read had open windows, through which a cool breeze blew. No monster-heat! My fellow readers were Steve Boyett, Seanan McGuire, and Kirsten Imani Kasai, who all did wonderful work. By the implacable rigors of alphabetical order, I read last, and rather than subject the audience to a fragment of my new novel, I read a bunch of short pieces — “Scientific Romance,” “Bacchanal,” “My Night with Aphrodite,” “Soul Searching,” “Ghost” — lots of fun, and the audience seemed to like it. I’d vaguely intended to go to the afterparty, but ended up hanging out at the cafe talking to my friends Chris and Maggie for an hour instead. It was immensely pleasant, and probably the right choice, as the alternative would have almost certainly led to me being hungover Sunday morning.

Of course, all that socialing meant falling behind on my writing for the weekend. I did manage to do what I think is the last revision pass on the Christmas Carol/Ghost Finder mash-up story co-written with Heather Shaw, and responded to editorial queries on my new story “Ill Met in Ulthar”, but I had to knuckle down and buckle down on Sunday to work on Grim Tides. My mad goal is to have a complete draft by Halloween, which means producing 30 to 40K words in the next two weeks. So, uh, that’s what I’ll be doing.


Busy times. My wife Heather Shaw and I are collaborating on a Christmas story, tentatively titled “The Curious Case of A Christmas Carol” — it’s our “Christmas Carol/Ghost Finder” mash-up. (We couldn’t actually use Hodgson’s Carnacki the Ghost Finder as a character, since the events of A Christmas Carol take place too early, but we have a Carnacki-esque occultist). It’s pretty much done — we just need to add a couple of scenes to the middle and tweak the ending a bit. The story was commissioned as an audio original, but I’ll hold off on further details until it’s turned in and accepted! Heather and I haven’t collaborated in a few years, so it’s fun to be working together on a project again.

I’m doing the LitCrawl portion of LitQuake this Saturday night, so come to the Borderlands Cafe at 8:30 to hear me read, along with other exciting people like Seanan McGuire (in her Mira Grant guise) and Steven Boyett and Kirsten Imani Kasai. I’ll probably be there early, to hear the previous batch of readers next door in the bookstore itself. (And earlier that afternoon I’ll be on a panel talking about crowdfunding to a group of graduate students just a few blocks away. It will be a busy Saturday.)

I’m told Briarpatch is on front tables at at least some Barnes & Noble locations this month (whoo!), though I haven’t been to the local B&N yet to see for myself. Very nice to see the publisher getting behind the title with that kind of promotion, though. If you haven’t bought it yet, please do! It has a magical car and a weird ghost and a chrome shotgun and philosophical underpinnings and a guy who is magically granted a sense of smell! Also bears.

Order from Amazon, or from Barnes and Noble, or from Powell’s

The Iron Wood

Life is quiet and good.

As I may have mentioned, my wife and I recently had our sixth wedding anniversary! (On October 1.) I got her this necklace, and she got me a very cool natural lodestone. (The sixth anniversary gifts are, traditionally, iron, sugar, or wood. We usually do variations on the traditional themes, because we think it’s fun, and we figured “metal” and “magnet” were close enough.) The real gift is this weekend, though — we’ve got an overnight babysitter for the kid, so we’ll go out on Friday and have a wonderful dinner and an evening all to ourselves. Should be delightful.

We’ve been trying to eat better lately (that is: not order so much take out), and have made some really yummy meals lately. Wilted arugula with balsamic fried eggs; marinated ahi with roasted tomatoes; green salad with peaches, grilled chicken, almonds, and blue cheese; omelets with good bacon and fresh tomatoes; and so on. Simple, quick stuff we can make after work, mostly, but when you start throwing around phrases like “balsamic reduction” it feels nice and fancy.

Otherwise, I’ve just been writing, and reading, and watching TV. Books lately include some of Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol comics, and The Death Ray by Daniel Clowes, Matt Ruff’s next novel The Mirage, and assorted short stories. We recently watched the first season of Boardwalk Empire, and now that fall is here, the Tivo is full of new things every night. (We have a 3-year-old; we mostly can’t go out at night; TV is our entertainment mode of choice, apart from books.) We’re watching Ringer, mostly out of residual affection for Sarah Michelle Gellar. Persons of Interest is potentially interesting. We have that dinosaur time travel show saved but haven’t watched it, and mostly we hear bad things, so I dunno if we will. And there are various returning shows we watch, too. I’m sad that House won’t be set entirely in a prison this season (so many potential bad puns! The Jail House! The Big House!) but you can’t have everything.

I’m Writing a Lot About Beaches Lately

My story “The Secret Beach” is up at Fantasy Magazine. There’s also an author spotlight interview with me. I was feeling especially deterministic that day when I answered their questions about destiny; don’t mind me. Most of the time I bop along happily, acting as if I have free will. (As if I have any choice, he said darkly.)

So! Over the weekend I revised the existing 30,000 words of Grim Tides, making it more like 35,000 words in the process. It’s much tighter now, and I’m even beginning to discern a theme; I hope you won’t hold that against me. I’m probably about 40% of the way through (the Marla books tend to run in the 85-95K range). I may not get a complete draft done by the end of October (when I have to stop for a while to focus on another project), but I bet I’ll come close. And, anyway, the first ten chapters or so are ready, so even if I fell into a terrible non-writing funk right now, I’d have enough for two and a half months of serializing. It’s a nice feeling.