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Month: December 2010

34 on 12/12

This Sunday is my birthday. (12/12 — easy to remember.) I’ll be 34 years old.


My original goal as a writer, long ago in college, was to sell a novel by age 35. Well, I managed that. My other goal was to be a full-time writer by 40. Doesn’t seem especially likely, given prevailing economic conditions, but who can say? Six years is a long time. Six years ago I hadn’t sold any novels at all. Check back with me in late 2016, assuming I’m not living in one of President-for-Life Palin’s Reeducation Camps for Coastal Elites.

We have a babysitter lined up for Friday night, so my wife and I can go out. We’re too broke for true extravagance, but we’ll get some dinner and maybe see a movie. Perhaps Black Swan, which combines my wife’s love of dance with my love for Aronofsky movies.

33 was a rough year — though easier than 32. And looking back, I remember the good parts far more clearly than the bad. What more can I ask? (I’ve now lived longer than that nice Jewish boy Yeshua Ben Miriam did. Though obviously I’ve accomplished considerably less…)


I sold my 100th story! (Including collaborations, audio originals, stories original to my own collections, and a couple of pieces self-published in Christmas chapbooks — but still! 100!)

Initially I thought I’d only sold 99, then realized I’d left a story off my bibliography and declared my story “Rangifer Volans: A Very Cryptozoological Christmas” (upcoming on Drabblecast for the holidays) as #100.

But then I discovered that I’d forgotten to put another story on my bibliography, so my 100th story was actually either “Luminous” or “D is for De Gustibus”, both flash pieces sold to Podcastle on the same day. So I’ve actually got 101 stories published or pending. Unless I forgot another one on my bibliography. Which is admittedly possible. Oh well. There was an arbitrary numerical milestone in there somewhere.

It only occurred to me to count at all because I was looking at The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard and noticed that it had only 98 stories. But I can admit that Ballard had, shall we say, a rather better ratio of quality to quantity than I do.

The other realization I had is that I’ve got another collection’s worth of stories — even excluding flash, Marla Mason stories (I’m saving those for a dedicated collection someday), and a few minor pieces. I may start putting together a story collection manuscript to shop around in the coming months, though I’d want to write a substantial original piece for it, so it won’t happen soon. I’m leaning toward Antiquities and Tangibles: Stories as a title, after a novelette I have upcoming in Subterranean. I do love assembling collections.

Not All Better

Whooooo. Been a rough week and it’s only Wednesday. I was sick Monday, and stayed home, where I mostly read comics and slept and watched five episodes in a row of The Walking Dead. (Interesting that the plot bears so little resemblance at all to that of the comic.)

Yesterday I felt better, and ran around with the kid, mostly — tried a new playground in North Berkeley, did grocery shopping, tried to do toddler time at the library, but he’s pretty much outgrown it and gets bored, so that didn’t last long. After the boy went to bed I played Cataclysm, the new expansion of World of Warcraft. I was part of the beta, so it wasn’t all wild and new to me, but it’s nice to play it and have everything work and be polished, without the constant crashes and placeholder graphics. And I didn’t get far in the beta, really, because I was too busy writing books to play in recent months, so much of it will be new to me soon.

I also cooked very delicious sausage/tomato/white bean soup. The key is fresh sage leaves. Yum.

Alas, late in the night, the kid started throwing up. Apparently he caught what I had, only an even worse case. Heather stayed up with him all night. I took over around 6 am so she could get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep before I went to work.

A sick three year old is so sad! He doesn’t understand what’s happening. Because he gets asthma medicine and baby tylenol and claritin occasionally, he keeps asking for medicine to make his tummy feel better, and ginger and peppermint doesn’t do the job. He’ll throw up and then say “I sorry daddy,” and he mistakes the immediate post-vomit cessation of nausea for being “all better!” Plus he’s hungry and thirsty and has trouble eating bread or drinking water slowly — he wants to wolf it down. He’s amazingly cheerful for a child who’s tossing his cookies every 30 to 90 minutes, though. With luck it’ll pass quickly.

Clarion Call

Clarion, people. Clarion! They’re taking applications for next year’s session in San Diego. Here’s their pitch:

Clarion is widely recognized as a premier training ground for aspiring writers of fantasy and science fiction short stories. The 2011 writers in residence are Nina Kiriki Hoffman, John Scalzi, Elizabeth Bear, David Anthony Durham, John Kessel and Kij Johnson. Each year 18 students, ranging in age from late teens to those in mid-career, are selected from applicants who have the potential for highly successful writing careers. Students are expected to write several new short stories during the six-week workshop, and to give and receive constructive criticism. Instructors and students reside together in UCSD campus apartments throughout the intensive six-week program.

Application period: December 1 – March 1. Applicants must submit two short stories with their application.

Workshop: June 26 – August 6, 2011.

So go to their website and take a look.

It’s a great line-up of teachers. While I can’t speak specifically to the experience of doing Clarion in San Diego (I went to Clarion 11 years ago, in the East Lansing Michigan days), I can attest to the experience of Clarion generally, which is: life changing. I know you hear that phrase a lot — about books, movies, restaurants, mind-altering substances, etc., but with Clarion (for me anyway) it was literally true. I met people there who are still among my best friends. My professors were inspirations. I learned more about writing in six weeks than I’d learned in all the years previous. I discovered that awesome famous writers are people, too. It very literally changed my life — without Clarion, I wouldn’t have ended up working at Locus, where I’ve been working for nearly ten years now. (One of my instructors was friends with the boss, and basically got the job for me — plus, I first heard about Locus at Clarion!) I can’t promise it’ll have that big an impact on your life, of course… but it will give you six weeks to spend intensely focused on writing, surrounded by people who care as much about this stuff as you do. If you can carve out the time, it’s worth applying. (I desperately want to teach there some day, myself.)

I can also speak to the awesomeness of San Diego: it’s awesome. Great food, great beaches, Mysterious Galaxy bookstore — what more could you want? No offense to East Lansing, which has its charms, but I gotta think San Diego is more fun.