Saturday, July 25, 2009

Crawling Out of the Pit, It Heaves a Ragged Sigh. . .

Four days is an eternity in the Interverse. It feels like one, at least. I came back here and immediately felt bad that I had not posted more since the FoG link.

Just a few little tidbits for now; tomorrow will be a half-day of writing and I'll at least whip up a flash or two. But for now, these messages:

1) I had fun writing for SFSignal's Mind Meld, about my favorite short stories. My entry is about two-thirds of the way down. I hope to contribute to more Melds in the future.

2) I'm planning my next FoG column, and there are several different topics that I want to write about. Do any of these stand out in particular?
a) A column on Readercon, focusing on how different it is from most other cons and what I gleaned from the panels.
b) The Generation Gap in SF. There was an online poll about this recently that a number of writers responded to, and their answers got my anthropological curiosity aroused, so I pondering writing a column that talks about the differences between younger and older SF fans. My first thought is that there is less of a generation gap than a difference in how people participate in the subcultures.
c) Near-Future SF & Its Anxieties: This idea is an elaboration on a debate that erupted during a talk by David Williams at LASFS. I find the questions raised by this exchange to be intriguing, especially so since I subscribe to Gene Wolfe's notion that science fiction is a form of fantasy that has an aura of factuality about it. Why must Near-Future SF be somehow more precise in its science and political extrapolation?

Off to ponder.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I Did a Thing. . . .

Well, with more nervousness than I have felt about anything else I've put on the web so far, I announce the publication of my first column for Forces of Geek. I would be grateful if folks could read it and comment. Also, I would appreciate it if people could let me know privately about any writing or thematic issues that come up.

It's a bit long, but as an introduction I think it works. I really wanted to talk about the roots of my SF fandom and the fact that even from the beginning this was much more important to me than a hobby. I want to talk about books and trends in SF from the social angle, and I thought it important to show people how my perspective came about. Hopefully, it is also entertaining.

::deep breath::

I just spent the morning cleaning the column up and doing all the technical posting stuff, but it looks like I did everything correctly. I'm gonna go walk the dogs and do some dishes now, to step back from this.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Jammin' at the Speed of. . . Paint Drying

A semi-exciting update. Not a lot of new work done in the past few days. Some new ideas, some character notions for the novel, scribbings hither and thither. Life has laid some heavy burdens down on me this past week and I can feel the psychic pressure crushing my creative faculties. But I am working through them, and I will be back to writing tomorrow, getting back to the novel and considering a short project to work on as well. I have been doing more reading and thinking about what I need to do to advance my writing and one of my goals for next week will to put some of my new ideas into practice.

Lilith Saintcrow wrote a good piece discussing how writers should use social networking media. It's worth a look not just for writers but for most artists and for people who work in the public eye. I am going to apply some of her advice to this blog and to my Twitter, which is becoming my writer's chatterbox. For this blog, that includes more book reviews and putting up some of my older writing. I am also working on a writer's resume, and going back into my archives to look at my work (creative work in undergrad, some advocacy and journalism as a grad student, etc.). I also hope to dig up my first published story and either post a link to it or get permission ot put it up as a pdf on the blog. I think I will refrain from putting my NEH grant paper on tropes of transculturation in Colonial America, however.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


I have returned from Readercon (and survived the day after which was a heinously busy day at work!). It was great. I attended some fine panels (and a few less-than-fine), met two of my literary heroes, and absorbed a lot about SF and writing. A more detailed summary will appear [soon!], and I am considering what to focus on for a Forces of Geek column. I think I will have a better idea of what I want to delve into after I write up a report.

Highlights of the con were four in number:

1) Met Samuel R. Delany and Gene Wolfe. I went to their respective Kaffeeklatsches and got to thank them both for their influence on my writing. I got to chat with Mr. Delany more than Mr. Wolfe, and also got him to sign my copy of Nova and a copy of The Jewel-Hinged Jaw. I even got a picture (as seen above)!

2) The Kirk Poland Memorial Bad Prose Competition. It was even funnier than last year, perhaps because this year it was a Tournament of Champions. I love how writers can be both creative and silly simultaneously in this format, and Eric Van is a great MC.

3) Books! There were values galore in the Bookshop this year, and a fair number of freebie books as well. I got some great stuff; not a lot of collector's items, but a pile of good books. Going around the Bookshop is like traveling through a museum, a carnival, a networking node, and a bazaar at the same time.

4) Cousin. I went with my cousin Frank, which made for a relaxing, funny, sometimes snarky weekend. It was fun to spend time with him and to do things like cruise the Bookshop. It was also fun to get yelled at by him for not getting Howard Waldrop to sign a book he gave me :-).

Given the above, I have done very little writing since Wednesday. But I will be back to it tomorrow. The novel beckons, as does a short story, and of course a Readercon report.

A sad note: Charles Brown died on his way home from Readercon. The guiding hand of Locus
was an important influence on the field, and I wish I had done more than just say "Hi Mr. Brown!" the last time that I saw him.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

You Got Your Story in my Internet!

Yet another reason I wish I had been able to attend Origins this year (besides playing a lot of VTES, some Shadowfist, and catching Monte Cook's GMing seminar): Mike Stackpole gave a talk on writing in the digital era. What's innovative is not his assertion that publishing and writing are changing in the new media environment, but that the way we structure our stories may need to change.

I liked his invocation of Penny Dreadfuls, in the context of creating stories for people reading on their phones or Kindles or Woeboxes. I'm not sure that I agree with his percentages of story composition (mostly because I think we need to broaden what we offer), but I am pondering the utility of paying more attention to structure in the composition of stories for new media. I like the serial idea quite a lot because authors can use it for subscription writing and can make their stories less predictable and flexible. I think there are exciting possibilities and challenges for writing in this format, and I look forward to trying them!

I withdraw, but first, a nanofiction:

"It's a unicorn horn," the young man said.
"It's a dildo," the old man said.
The young man traced its growth swirls. "Horn. Unicorn."
The old man tapped the worn, rounded tip. "Horn. Pleasure."
Youthful sigh. "Found in woods." Old grumble: "No dead horse."
The woman smiled. "Why not both?"
The faeries giggled knowingly.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Planning Phase

It's late, and today was a pretty long day. But I wanted to at least put an update out here.

Looks like my Forces of Geek premiere will be after the 4th. Woe! Hopefully it won't be over the weekend because I think it won't get a lot of reading. We shall see!

I have sketched out ideas for the next two columns. One is about the complications of near-future SF (with some examples for recent literature) and the other is about the elasticity of "SF" in the speculative fiction sense and how that fires us up as readers. The former bounces off of an idea I've been working on for a couple of stories and also off of some recent debates (such as one between David Williams and Jerry Pournelle, which can be viewed here). The latter will probably get some input from my trip to Readercon next week and some discussions of genre proliferation, such as the debate over slipstream fiction.

The ideas are coming pretty fast; now I just need the time to start writing them.

I am also starting to think about the formal process of submitting to short story markets and (once it's got more depth and polish) showing Aetas Nex to a few agents. That is a little farther down the road, but I've been doing some research about it and I think that by the time I feel ready to do I'll have a better idea about the best approach. I might put some of those ideas up here a little later.

As part of this growing plan, I am likely going to stop opendrafting Aetas Nex soon. It gets very little commentary and I feel that I am getting more comfortable with my writing process. I started doing the draft this way to perhaps get attention (at least from friends) and maybe some feedback and encouragement as I got back into the writing groove, but given that I think more about how it is not being read, it makes more sense to continue the draft the old-fashioned way.

More thoughts tomorrow, and a bit of nanofiction as well!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Stuff About Writing, and Questions for the Hive Mind

So, writing has been going pretty well the past few weeks. I hit a hiccup with illness this week and have done little since Monday, but hope to get back to it tonight or tomorrow. I can write when feeling tired, but not with a headache; oy!

Aetas Nex is over 15K words, which I think is about a quarter of the novel. I'm about to hit the first major plot tangle and I'm happy about its general progress.

Wrote a short story in a day (see previous blog post); not a great one, but one that at least went from point A to point B. I've doodled a few flash fics, and have been filling the ideas file with possible subjects.

I should be up on Forces of Geek with my first column this week; because it is Week Five of June the editor is inserting new writers along with bios. I will let folks know when it is finally up.

There are a couple of things I would like to query y'all about, to wit:

1) One idea is for a YA fictional blog entitled "Ginny Sterling's Jetpack Future," It's a "retro-blog" from the future (completely unauthorized and using her mother's latest scientific discovery) which combines some space opera and some fable-like tales of the aforementioned future (where there are, indeed, jetpacks). The question is, has anyone heard of something similar? I have done a bit of Googling but found nothing yet.

2) I'm also developing a kinda-meta, kinda-satirical superhero comic (which I think I pitched to my imaginary editor as "Watchmen and The Boys go out and get drunk with Madman") called (quite imaginatively!) "The Force" about a small group of government-sponsored heroes who end up questioning a lot of their ideals and certitudes about their job. I don't suppose anyone knows an artist who is looking for something to do for exposure and experience that might want to do something like this?