Home again, home again

Ignore the ransom demands. I’m home from Orycon and what a great time I had. Lots to process, but here’s a few high points:

  • chatting with Michael Ehart, one of my favorite flash fiction writers and author of The Servant of the Manthycore and the upcoming The Tears of Ishtar.
  • watching author and anthology editor Lou Anders and Mary-Robinette Kowal, author of the heart-rending 2009 Hugo nominee Evil Robot Monkey (which is flash fiction BTW), pace the center lane at the Building a Balanced Mythos panel.
  • Saturday dinner with Tom Crosshill and Alex Black, the other two 1st Quarter 2009 Writers of the Future winners.
  • seeing Kevin Shamel again. Kevin was at Orycon selling his new book, Rotten Little Animals from Eraserhead Press. (The Mohawk is cool beans, Kev.)
  • Saturday drinks with author and teacher Mary Rosenblum (who has been enormously supportive of 10Flash. Thanks again, Mary. I can’t say that too often.), Dale Smith and Shawna Reppert, whose flash fiction (respectively) Dead Wife Waiting and A Knight’s Vow will appear in the January 2010 and April 2010 issues of 10Flash. (Wait ’til you read them. Great stuff.)
  • the late Sunday afternoon chat with Camille Alexa, author of Push the Sky, a short fiction collection from Hadley Rille Books, and flash fiction editor for Abyss & Apex magazine.  Smart and funny lady.

I hope to talk more about Orycon later. Right now (it’s a bit after midnight), I’m going to bed. I am usually a night writer but at this moment, I’m exhausted.

Off it goes

Finished Neon Knight this morning.

It’s a 2,000-word short about Arthur’s round table and vampires and revenge.

How, you may ask, do those three things fit together? I’d tell you, but then I’d have to drain every last drop of blood from your struggling body. So why not wait and see if it finds a home.

I sent it off to the folks at Abyss & Apex. I’ll let you know what they say.

Meanwhile, I’m still working on Wayfarer. It’s one of those pieces that goes into the word processor kicking and biting. Not that I’m having trouble finding words, quite the opposite.

I’m writing it for a specific market — Beyond Ceaseless Skies — that has a preferred maximum count of 10,000 words. The story’s at 6,000 words so far, I’ve already cut it back twice, and the end isn’t in sight yet.

The characters in Wayfarer keep whispering to me that they want more. Greedy bastards. I’ll let you know who wins.

Workshopping – day 1

Day one of Jim Gunn’s SF Writers’ Workshop is winding down; in ten minutes it will be midnight here in Lawrence. It’s been a busy day and I still have two stories to critique for tomorrow.  Thank God I read all but one story before I left Seattle.

I was up at 6:45 a.m. this morning to call Rachael before she left for her Metro Transit job and then I worked on on 10Flash for a couple of hours (it debuts Wednesday).  Then I spent a couple of hours doing mundane things like setting up the little Lexmark printer I sent ahead of me and calling the University’s information systems department to get e-mail turned on in my dorm room.

Jude-Marie Green, associate editor for Abyss & Apex, and I also walked the long blocks to the Student Union to pick up food cards for the university eatery that is across the street from us, a place called Mrs. E’s.  We got back in time to join a bunch of the folks at Mrs. E’s for lunch and then we hiked back to Templin Hall for the short story workshop at 1:00 p.m.

What a great session!

Being one of those top of the alphabet persons, my  hard-science fiction attempt, A Prayer to Saint Barbara, was first out of the gate.  The critiques were generally kind and surprisingly positive.  Everyone was unanimous in saying the title didn’t work and agreed that the story was too long, but as I said in earlier posts, it’s a first draft and I expected to be making changes.

After everyone else had their turn, Professor Gunn ticked off a list of revision suggestions.  The most significant, I thought, was the importance of my coming to terms with what the story is about.  Without that understanding, he said, it is easy to wander and include all manner of unnecessary information.  His list of story faults was long but I was pleased to hear him say that he found “the writing to be impeccable.”  High praise from an acknowledged master of the art.  I worked on a rewrite for two hours after session and chopped out almost three thousand, which is due back in the group next Monday.

BTW, the new title is Fat-Bottomed Girl.

A bunch of us went to dinner at a Greek-Italian place in Lawrence’s charming downtown area and then came back to the dorm to unwind with some movies.  I won’t tell you the titles of what we watched, but everyone agreed the collective I.Q. in the room had dropped more than twenty points by the time we headed to our separate rooms for the night.

That’s all for now, other than to say the quality of the writing I am seeing here is awesome and it is so much fun spending this much time with other people who love writing and science fiction as much as I do.  What a great bunch of geeks and I use the term with the utmost respect.  Someone remarked today, I don’t recall who just now, that it was so great to be around so many people who actually read books and understood “big words”.  Amen to that.

More later about the people who are here with me to learn how to be better storytellers, as well as words about Professor Gunn, Chris McKitterick, assistant director of the program, who is one of the friendliest, hardest working fellows I have ever met, and Kij Johnson, instructor for the novel-writing sessions.  All three of them are the sort with whom I would willingly be stuck on a desert island.