Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My new favourite thing...

...apart from writing, of course... is answering questions about my work.

Also: if I can make myself work ten more days like yesterday, I shall be finished the Not-a-Werewolf book right on time.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Viable Paradise 2010 about to open for applications

In 2008 I attended Viable Paradise, a week-long speculative fiction workshop held on Martha's Vineyard.

It was the smartest thing I've ever done for my writing career. When I applied I was already past the million-word mark, but I had only a few sales under my belt (all a decade ago, too), and a completed novel but no agent. I knew I wanted to write short fiction again, but I hadn't begun to do so. The instructors of Viable Paradise gave me the tools to take my next steps with confidence, without wasted effort, and with a new sense of excitement and dedication.

When I applied for the workshop, my father was dying. I don't remember whether I talked it over with him; what I do remember is the understanding that came to me with his passing:

Time's short.

I know some writers who are content to be hobbyists, to write for an audience of their spouses or to stuff their completed manuscripts in a desk drawer.

I'm not one of them. I need my work to be read. And I needed professionals in the field to help me quit wasting time and start writing my best work, submitting it to pro markets, and getting it accepted.

I also needed contact with a community of my peers. My fellow students turned out to be a truly inspiring and supportive bunch. We have a wide range of styles and forms, but we all share
an intensity of purpose.

It's been just over a year since I attended. In that time, I've made my first two professional short fiction sales; I've joined the Ideomancer team as a slush reader; I've written two-thirds of my second novel, and three other stories that I believe are ready to sell.

Every one of these steps was made easier and quicker by the things I learned at the workshop. So: a huge thank-you to Elizabeth Bear, Debra Doyle, Steven Gould, James MacDonald, Laura Mixon, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, and John Scalzi.

And to aspiring applicants: look at that list of instructors. Those people are awesome. You, too, could learn from them, talk literature with them, have a drink with them, have another drink with them, find yourself singing folk songs you don't know very well, and come home with spectacularly scarred knuckles!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Progress Report

As the year draws to a close, I am, as always, disappointed with how far I've fallen short of the goals I set for myself. I wanted to write a short story for every month in 2009. Even counting the 2008 stories I revised, I only came up with half that; nor am I quite finished the Not-a-Werewolf book.

I did, however, write some things of which I am very proud.

"The Tongue of Bees"
"Who in Mortal Chains"

On submission:
"The Oracle of the Dashboard"
"The Compass of Chicago"
"The Duellist, After Her Prime"

Final revisions:
"A Sovereign Cure for Pneumonia"

In progress:
"Rush Lane"
"Seven Postcards from the Garden of Earthly Delights"
"Book of the Dead"

"King of Bramble Heights"
"Bleaker Collegiate"

Next things to write:
#3 in the Gus series
#3 in the Oracle series

State of the Little Novel:
2/3 complete, aiming for February

State of the Big Novel:
In pieces all over the floor... almost literally. This novel needs a chirurgeon.

State of the Novelist:
...in need of another cup of coffee.

Red-letter day yesterday. I got a cheque in the mail. I am in a fortunate position--I have a day job which covers my living expenses, so I am free to spend this cheque on something symbolic.

Because it is the cheque for "Who in Mortal Chains," in which one woman cannot defend herself and another cannot quite control herself, I am going to donate it to the Shape Your Life project. (I may also buy myself a pint of Hop Addict, or something similarly great and bitter.)

Friday, December 18, 2009

it's alive!

My website is up.

My thanks to the lovely & talented Kristin Craig Lai: may your future be rich with delicious tea!

Monday, December 14, 2009

In which it turns out this photograph is a metaphor

Because I miss green things already: have a leaf. This particular leaf is a grape leaf from my back yard.

We don't know what we're doing with grapes. We inherited them from the previous owners of our house, an elderly Portuguese couple. These vines are likely older than we are.

Some years our grape yield is more than we can handle; one year my mother-in-law made jelly from them. This year, I don't know what we did differently, but all we had were leaves.

I have writing years like that. Years where I can see that the vines of my mind are still hardy, but they bear no fruit. Sometimes it's because I let them run wild earlier, and they only need time to recover their sap. Sometimes, it's because I cut them back, harshly, all but the ragged dark trunk.

This year, I am knee deep in the crush, and well on my way to a strong vintage.

Monday, December 7, 2009

In which everything's coming up Humphrey

...although I do wish I had a more euphonious surname. I think it's already too late to give myself one, however; it was too late the moment I signed my first contract.

My website is ready, and will go live as soon as my webmaster has a free moment (currently, he is doing double duty as saladmaster, soon to be followed by workoutmaster). My web designer is a marvel of creativity and patience, and deserves some really nice tea.

I continue to be amazed and humbled by the kindness, professionalism and enthusiasm shown by the people in my communities: the SF community, the bookselling community in general, and the community of my friends. My life makes me so excited sometimes that all I can think of doing is running around, picking up heavy things, or hauling myself up walls.