I’ve had four or five small sales since I last posted in November 2011 but the big news is that Mike Alexander and I sold our collaboration, The Moon Belongs to Everyone, to Analog. It’s alternate history noir set on the Moon in 1979. The “what-if” of the story is what if America hadn’t backed away from the Moon after Apollo 17 in 1972? Look for it in the December 2012 issue.
This has been a week of firsts for me. Completion of my first novel deal, for Lifting Up Veronica, and now I’m pleased to announce that my first collection of short stories, Snapshots from A Black Hole & Other Oddities, will be published in November by Tod McCoy’s Hydra House Books.
The book features twenty four stories, eighteen previously published and six brand new tales.
The inimitable Cat Rambo is editor, and the book features a kick-ass cover by Seattle artist Christopher Sumption. Plans are for a launch at Orycon November 11, 2011, in Portland. Hope to see you there.
I’m pleased and excited to announce that Every Day Publishers, Ltd. has selected my novel, Lifting Up Veronica, to be the first of its Every Day Novels.
Every Day Novels, slated to begin publication in January 2012, will be an online magazine devoted to serialized novels. A new flash-fiction length chapter will be presented daily, in the tradition of the 19th century novels serialized in British and American newspapers.
In addition to the serial run, Lifting Up Veronica will be presented in e-book and print formal after the serialization is complete.
In Lifting Up Veronica, Michael Kovac, a sociologist from Ohio State University, travels to rural West Virginia in the summer of 1960 to shoot footage for a documentary during a week-long tent meeting at a Signs Followers church. The Signs Followers are a Christian sect best know for their practice of handling venomous snakes and participating in other potentially deadly practices.
Every Day Publishing also owns and operates Every Day Fiction, where a number of my flash fiction pieces have appeared.
It sounds like screw-ball comedy, but it most decidedly is not.
Wily Writers has an interesting set-up. Each month they present two new stories — as both a podcast and a text download — that focus on a common theme. The February theme was Vigilantes. A vigilante, of course, is a person who takes the law into his or her own hands, as by avenging a crime. Listen to the story and I think you’ll see how that fits.
Angel Leigh McCoy, Wily Writers’ Editor, recorded the podcast and did a masterful job with the character accents. Thank you, Angel. You made the read sound easy and I know it’s not.
I’m doubly pleased with this publication because Stuff of the Elder Gods is my first piece to be podcast. It’s both exciting and humbling to listen to someone else read your words.
Stop by and listen, if you get a chance.
Sorry for fading away for the past three weeks.
It’s been a whirlwind. Since day one of Clarion West, I’ve written nine stories (almost 40,000 words), read and critiqued ninety stories (closing in on half-a-million words), attended four fan parties and the Locus Awards and been to the emergency room twice (it was for food allergies and after the second trip I was covered with hives for five days, Fun and games.).
I’ve had to learn to live with seventeen strangers, aged 21 to 60, of both genders. I’ve come to like most of them, formed what I hope will be lasting friendships with two or three, and I’ve probably pissed off all of them at one time or another over thirty-five days (Rachael will tell you I’m not always easy to get along with). I know I’ve been pissed off myself from time to time.
All in all, though, I find the bunch of them funny, intelligent and interesting to talk with, not to mention incredibly gifted writers. Some of the stories I’ve read have moved me to tears, made me laugh and blown my mind. They’re not my stories, so I can’t tell you about them, but I suspect you’ll have a chance to read some of them — in print — before too long.
It’s been a singular experience and there’s still a week to go. Ian McDonald is here for last week. We met him last night; he’s a bright and funny man (with a lovely Irish accent). He’s going to talk to us this week about world-building and writing other cultures and pitching stories and who knows what all.
Seventeen more stories to read and critique. One more party to attend. Then it will be over and we haven’t even had a chance to play Thing.
More when I can.
The roller coaster ride continues.
Monday through Friday, five rounds of group critique on the first set of stories we’ve written here. It was intense.
Michael Bishop told us last week that we should give ourselves permission to submit less than perfect drafts. For less than perfect first drafts, the first week stories were damned good. One or two, in my opinion, are ready for magazine submission.
We continue to settle in and become accustomed to each other. There has been some head-bumping. When you get this large a group of strangers, living this close together, that’s bound to happened.
As for me, I like all seventeen of my classmates, wouldn’t change a single thing about any one of them, but then I’m easy. I like people and I have to say — again — that I am in awe of this group.
When did people so young get to be so smart?
We had three mystery muses this week — Connie Willis on Wednesday, Vonda McIntyre and Nancy Kress. All three were funny and informative. They talked about their careers, about working these days as an SF writer, about the differences between writing short stories and writing novels, and answered a slew of questions. So much fun.
A couple of us had a little mini-celebration Saturday morning. One of the other participants, [identity deleted], just received word that [possessive gender pronoun masked] first published story, [title blurred], has appeared in [magazine name x-ed out] and has received a “recommended” review from [a major SF magazine].
Those of us who heard the news patted [identity deleted] on the back, applauded and shouted “That’s [expletive marked out], [profanity expunged] fantastic!”
There. Who says I can’t talk about the details of our forty-two days together and not be discrete?
I can’t say enough good things about Maureen McHugh. A week ago, I wasn’t really certain who she was, although I had read a couple of her short stories. After the last seven days, I’ve become an ardent fan.
She pours her entire being into teaching and remains just folks. Thursday night, a bunch of us went out for drinks with her and she used the casual time to continue to help us bond.
My work progresses. I submitted Kindred Soul for my Week Three story. It’s a fantasy/horror story with a senior protagonist (one of the goals I set for myself for the workshop).
I’ve also finished first draft on Seven Snapshots from a Black Hole for Week Four (another hard science fiction story that I hope to send to Analog eventually) and have a good start on a story for Week Five, Portraits Hung in Empty Halls. It’s a twist on time travel, with a protagonist other than the traveler.
In addition to all the writing, I’m not sleeping enough, eating too much and pretty much ignoring the outside world. I haven’t read a newspaper in two weeks. Not that I read a newspaper regularly before Clarion West, but I did look at one now and then.
It’s a Clarion West tradition to get some sort of gift for the outgoing instructor, something with some personal significance. Maureen admitted to us early in the week that she has a passion for post-apocalyptic tales, and so we put together a “survival” kit for her.
We gave it to her Friday afternoon, collected in a combat helmet doing double duty s a gift basket. In addition to the helmet, there was a gas mask, a multi-tool, a crank-up flashlight, water purification tablets, small bottles of alcohol (with rags for Molotov cocktails), a grimed and much-thumbed survival manual and lots of other essential odds and ends.
She loved it. Her only quibble was how she would get most of the items past Homeland Security on her flight home to Austin. We’ll deny everything, of course.
Good luck, Maureen. As someone else said, You’re the business. 😉
Nnedi Okorafor is here next week. She’ll be here tonight, this afternoon, actually. I’m looking forward to her time with us. Whenever I can find an idle moment, I’ve been reading her new novel, Who Fears Death, and it’s fantastic.
BTW, I haven’t gotten my tattoo yet. There was a funds snafu, but I think it’s worked out, so I hope to show you a picture soon.
Half way through the second week.
Maureen McHugh is the instructor this week and it’s been an interesting time. As a person, she’s laid back and friendly, very approachable, but as an instructor she intense and analytical. It’s obvious that she cares (and thinks) a lot about what goes into a story.
One of the things she said this morning, while critiquing a story by one of the other writers, is that when she reads a story, she wants to feel that the author is totally in control of what is going on, that every element of the narrative is there for a purpose, that the author intended it to exist.
Her own writing reflects this intensity. It’s exhilarating to think about but it’s also sort of scary. I know I still stumble through a good part of my own stories. Even so, my first submission, Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One, got generally good critiques. It starts out as a police procedural and along the way turns into a first contact story. Everyone, including Maureen, seemed to understand and accept the underlying humor, and she opined that I’d succeeded in making the two aliens genuinely alien, even though the nature and presentation of their conversation is essentially human.
The group is coming together nicely. Critiques have been insightful and honest, without being tactless and insulting. Everyone is submitting excellent first drafts. Several of the stories we’ve seen so far are close to being ready for submission to publications.
Apart from writing and critiquing, we’re having a good time together, which is a significant part of the process. It’s been suggested to us several times by different people that friendships and professional relationships that we develop here will stay with us throughout our careers.
I can see the bonds forming. We just had our second Wednesday night hour-long “tea party” and tomorrow night, after story submission deadline, most or all of us are going for cocktails with Maureen. Three of the women got Clarion West tattoos today. They look so great that others of us — myself including — are planning to head to the tattoo shop tomorrow. If I don’t chicken out, I’ll post a picture of mine on Sunday.
0630 Wednesday morning and I just crawled out of bed. It’s the beginning of our third day at the Clarion West workshop and all is well so far.
This thing is everything that people say it is — exciting, intimidating and so much fun. Michael Bishop is the kick-off instructor and he’s been fantastic. He uses a Socratic style of teaching, asking directed questions, expecting lots of participation and the class has been responding well. He started with a three-hour session Sunday night, sending us off at the end with an assignment — write a story — under 1,000 words — that involves a quest and focuses on one character.
It was due in twelve hours. That was a scramble, for everyone, I think. Particularly for me. I’d put in a full day on Saturday on zero sleep — ferrying folks to the Clarion West house — and then I slept a couple hours before going to work at midnight to finish out my week. I got back to CW house, got my things moved in just before the Sunday afternoon session started.
I finished first draft of a story — a upbeat love story — and was in bed by midnight. “Piece of cake,” I figured. Then my muse smacked me awake at 0300 with another idea — a contemporary fantasy that wound up as Into the Fading Light. I finished it in four hours, just in time to send it off for printing, and stumbled through the rest of the day on three hours sleep.
There was another assignment Monday — for Tuesday’s consideration — a science fiction love story that involves only the emotions of love, not the physicality. Four pages or less, thank you very much. That became Galatea, for me. Another assignment for today then, two of them, actually — do either one or both. 800 words of sensory description that brings a setting to life and a speculative fiction story, under 800 words, developed using Jim Simmerman’s Twenty Little Poetry Projects template.
Twenty Little Projects gave me Time Travel, Considered as Stream of Consciousness. One of the things I’d hoped to bring away from CW was the ability to write less conventional stories. That’s what this one is, I think — a bit screwball comedy, in fact — and I’m pleased with the result. We’ll see how it’s received today.
I’ve also been working on my week-two story submission — a bit of contemporary fantasy/horror piece with a working title of Kindred Souls. That’s got to be submitted by 2100 Thursday night and I’m done with first draft. It runs just under 5,000 words (I’d like to cut 10 or 15 percent of that away as I rewrite) and it’s a cautionary tale about aging. I like the main character, a self-described one-time tomboy named Dorothea. We’ll see.
In summary, the first three days have been packed full of work and new ideas. I like the other folks (several are close to my age, one of my concerns), Michael Bishop is a treat (he critiqued our submission stories for us, way over and above. Thank you so much, Mike. You’re the best.) and the work and company is stimulating. Oh, and I’m catching up a bit on sleep. Got six hours last night. More on Sunday morning.
To paraphrase Don McLean, February made me shiver, with every word that I delivered.
Well actually, it didn’t. The weather has been oh, so mild in these parts. In the low sixties today. But the writing scene has been sort of chilly.
The writing progresses steadily — up to almost 27,000 words now — but not a word on the pieces I have out.
I add to the pile, though. I’ve sent The Night Bus Doesn’t Stop Downtown on Mondays Anymore out into the cold to knock on doors, along with A Very Narrow Bridge, my fourth completed story for the year. It’s an alternate worlds story set in Seattle. That went to Scheherazade’s Facade, an anthology due out in October.
That’s it for now. I’m off to drive my Chevy to the levee.
- The check was in the mail today from Analog (Dell Publications, actually) for Flotsam. Still no word on publication date, but then that’s from another office. I’m ever so pleased with the payment, and I’m excited about the sale; but the numbers on the check — $360 — show why a writer can’t make a living selling genre fiction. Even so, Analog! Woot!
- The Best of Everyday Fiction Two is on the shelf now. I have four stories in it — I Must to the Barber’s Chair, In His Prime, Oh, Woman of Easy Virtue and Upon The Doorsteps. The title is linked. Check it out; you won’t be sorry. It’s a great collection from a great publication. Congratulations, Camille. You’ve hit a home run again.
- I’m on target for 150, 000 words this year. 14,500 since January 1 and three short stories completed — Crossing the Barrens, a westernesque fantasy that features a medicine show with God as its chief shill; Cretaceous on Ice, a tongue-in-cheek eccentric inventor tale that feels a lot like the SF stories I grew up with, and The Night Bus Doesn’t Stop Downtown on Mondays, Anymore, a moody bit of flash fiction set in Seattle. The first two are already in the mail. I’m still polishing Night Bus.