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Month: July 2012


The Antiquities and Tangibles Kickstarter is going well. 150% funded in the first day! And I hit my first “stretch goal,” so I’ll be writing two new stories for the collection. (I do have a way of creating work for myself.)

I just have to figure out which reprints to include in the book. I know some — the award nominees, the ones that have been in year’s bests. Still thinking about which other ones to include. I want a good balance of long/short, light/dark, sentimental/brutal, etc. (Here’s my bibliography. Anything published in 2007 or onward is fair game. Suggestions/demands are welcome.)

On an unrelated note: This morning Officeboy said, “Do you know why I’m excited to go to school today? Because I get to do the monkeybars! I learned to do them yesterday! I couldn’t do it before and then I could! I can go up and down! Do you know how long it took me to learn? Zero minutes! I just watched people who could do it, and then I did it!”

I appreciate his enthusiastic joy in the little things, and seek to emulate it in my own life.


Officeboy Dialogue: You’d Prefer an Astronaut

While driving home today:

Officeboy: I want to go to the moon. Also to Mars!

Me: Well, people have been to the moon before, and we’ve sent robots to Mars. We might send people to Mars before too long.

Officeboy: I want to go!

Me: Okay. Study hard in school and work hard, and maybe you can be an astronaut. It’s a hard job, but if you want to do it, you should try.

Officeboy: I will do good in school.

Me: Especially math and science.

Officeboy: What’s science?

Me: Well, it’s a way of learning about the world —

Officeboy, confidently: I will learn about the world and be an astronaut. And I already know math! Five plus five is ten! Ten plus ten is twenty!

Me: Very good!

Officeboy: Seven plus seven is… that’s hard. [Inaudible mutterings.] Fourteen!

Me: Perfect!

Officeboy: Am I an astronaut now?

Me: You’re on your way.

Project Manglement

I don’t force myself not to work, if I want to work, when I’m taking a break; the point is to do what I want, after all, and the intrinsic motivation of making something cool is often invigorating, while the extrinsic motivation of racing a deadline can be stressful. (It doesn’t have to be, really, if you manage your time well, but I had some unavoidable crunch times this year.)

So I’ve been thinking about projects. And project management. Here are some things I want to do, or have been approached about doing, or need to do, put here largely for my own organizational reference… but also as a glimpse into the mind of a working writer who can’t really remember how not to be working:

A story for the Rags and Bones anthology, “The Cold Corner,” which I expect to get drafted this weekend.

A Marla Mason story (for a chapbook promised to my Kickstarter backers), “Mongoose,” which is already half-written, which I will try to finish by month’s end.

A story about Marla’s cloak, “The Cloak: A Selective History”, for the incredibly generous Kickstarter backer who gave me crazy amounts of money in exchange for a new story about a character of his choice produced as a single-copy chapbook. (I will probably also send him some other goodies, as he funded a third of my goal singlehandedly…) I imagine I’ll write that one in early August.

A story about Mecha-Cthulhu (Of course there’s already a steampunk Lovecraft anthology in the works; nothing new under the sun, etc.) purely for my own amusement.

A story about Mr. Li (of “Captain Fantasy and the Secret Masters”) that I promised my friend D I would write for him. To do sometime this fall.

A new story — I’m not sure what yet, the ideas are still vague — for my next collection, which I will probably call “Antiquities and Tangibles and Other Stories.” Then I get to see if I can sell a collection again.

A contemporary fantasy novel, Heirs of Grace, which I will fiddle around with for the next year or so, probably. It’s not sold, so there’s no hurry.

A new Marla Mason novel, tentatively titled Bride of Death, which will be (I hope) funded by a Kickstarter, which I’ll launch either this fall or next spring, depending on when some other projects get scheduled.

Another Pathfinder Tales novel; maybe two, if I come up with a good idea. And there’s a chance I might be asked to do a sequel to another work-for-hire book I just finished.

I like that to-do list. It’s a good mix of self-indulgence and actual jobs. As opposed to my earlier list, which was all actual jobs, with actual expectations.

The End of Deadline Season

I hereby declare an official end to Deadline Season. There is much rejoicing throughout the land. Of my house.

The first half of this year (and a bit) were brutal. I wrote about a quarter of a million words, raced to hit deadline after deadline, and did a ton of other business-y stuff, revised a few books, did a few stories, worked on an anthology… all on top of day job, parenting, husbanding, etc.

But now the last novel I owe anyone this year has been revised and sent off. I am, admittedly, not entirely devoid of work — there’s still anthology editing going on, and I owe a few short stories over the coming months, and have promised a few reviews — but stories and editing are vastly easier than writing all those novels, which all had very tough deadlines (for various reasons). My nights and weekends are now no longer filled with endless work-work-work. I am so relieved and at peace. I wake up in the morning and feel psychically lighter.

Why, this past weekend, I actually went places with my wife and son! (Normally — for the past many months — my wife has taken him out of the house for at least a half day on Saturday and Sunday, sometimes a whole day, so I can get ungodly heaps of work done.)

We went to the Temescal Street Fair Sunday, and had a great time. Saturday I actually went and sat in a cafe by myself and read a book for a while! (And worked on a short story a little bit. Maybe I’m not so good at the not-working.)

I actually really enjoy writing. It’s writing under multiple deadlines, all of which I’m afraid I might blow, that stresses me out. And I’ve been working flat-out, doing three or four books a year, for… well, for years, honestly.

Which is why I’m taking things easy for the back half of 2013. I need a break — or I’ll break.

I’ll do this anthology work, write a few stories, some poetry. Maybe I’ll work on a contemporary fantasy novel I’ve wanted to do for a while (it is not stressful, as it has no deadline; the motivations are all intrinsic). But mostly I will hang out with my wife and son, see some friends, play lots of video games, sit in the yard and drink beer, do more cooking… Oh. I’m so happy, y’all.

My wife is going to be happier, too, since she won’t have to bear the brunt of childcare. And I am assured that I’m a pain in the ass to live with when I’m stressed, so she is already celebrating the return of the Tim Pratt of old.

Of course, my work schedule for 2013 is already filling up… But after a few months of downtime, I’ll be eager to work again anyway.

First Lines

I’ve seen the beloved First Lines meme going around again, so I figured I’d join in. Here are the opening sentences of several works-in-progress.

“Why have you brought me here, doctor?” the Chairman asked, in a voice like the stillness just before a storm.

— [Undisclosed work-for-hire book]

I’m the goddess of death, but only part time.

Bride of Death, Marla Mason #7

(Yes, I’m toying with writing it in first person.)

I thought that thing where a long-lost great-grand-uncle you’ve never heard of dies and leaves you a house was just something that happened in the movies: but here I am, standing on his front porch, hoping I won’t get tetanus from touching the rusty doorknob.

Heirs of Grace

I left home more than twenty years ago, and haven’t been back since; so why do I still think of it as home at all?

— “The Cold Corner”

Because she couldn’t think of any other way to survive, Marla Mason called a council of war.

— “Mongoose”

The thing that was not a cloak opened its three-score eyes and saw an ugly blue sky.

— “The Cloak: A Selective History”

And that’s it. Not so many works-in-progress, really; I even have reasonable expectations that I’ll finish all of them.