Or you should, anyway. Is my argument.
As I write these words it’s Thursday the 23rd, and I am sitting in Luma, which is the upstairs restaurant at the Tiff Bell Lightbox theater, at King and John Streets in Toronto, having what Kelly and I like to call a Superglam Writing Date. It’s a lovely spot for it–spacious and comfy, with good coffee for me, interesting wines for Kelly and a little plate of cookies and random shards of the dessert menu, made for sharing. The staff are pleasant. The crowd is upbeat and bubbly, pleased with the fact that most of them are dining, drinking, and then heading into a darkened room to share a brainy film experience with strangers. The music is neither too intrusive nor laced with yeeoldey hits of days gone by. (And you never get cuss-laden misogynist rap, which is more than I can say for the Jimmy’s on Gerrard.)
Normally I would be writing fiction and nothing else on an outing like this, but I am taking a little break from The Nature of a Pirate while some trusted writers and readers gnaw on it. The goal is one more pass through the text, starting Monday, working from their comments, and then a submission to my editor by summer’s end. After that, I will probably write some grant applications and short stories while contemplating my next novel-length move.
A few things I’ve been involved in lately:
- SF Signal’s Mindmeld asked what fictional character I (and Kelly, and several other writers) would offer Canadian citizenship to. I chose: the Tick. My argument is that Toronto, while lovely, could use a lot more of the surreal.
- Also on SF Signal, the full ToC for License Expired has been released. It is a wonder to behold. In addition to a gleamingly awesome author line-up, including Kelly, this Ian Fleming inspired anthology has some fantastic story titles: my Moneypenny story is called “Through Your Eyes Only,” for example, James Alan Gardner will be giving us “The Spy who Remembered Me,” and Claude LaLumiere’s story is entitled “You Never Love Once.”
- Finally, I’d like to announce that my Tor.com novelette “The Color of Paradox” has been selected by Sandra Kasturi and Jerome Stueart for the Canadian Best Of antho from ChiZine Publications, Imaginarium 4, where it will appear with stories by So Many People!! Peter Watts and Gemma Files and Kelley Armstrong and Peter Chiykowski and Eric Choi and Cory Doctorow and Helen Marshall and David Nickle and and and… it’s an incredible line-up, and I am lucky to be in it.
All very pleasing things, and I hope to announce another reprint sale soon, once the contract’s in and done. Is the summer being similarly kind to you? I definitely hope so.
Susan Palwick has begun a practice (inspired I believe by Terry Windling) of posting the three best things about her day on Facebook. I don’t think I could do this every day, especially not this week, but here are three lovely things about some random weeklike period before my cold germs set in.
One: Kelly came home with sushi last night so I wouldn’t cook, and dinner was therefore not only consumed but cleaned up by five o’clock. We immediately hopped up and hauled our butts to the Art Gallery of Ontario, even though it was closing at half past, and spent twenty glorious minutes getting acquainted with Silke Otto-Knapp, who paints eerie monochrome and low-contrast watercolor images on canvas. Haunting stuff–check it out! They booted us out when they closed; we snuffled around the store and came home. We’d had a full day and a sublime artistic experience, and there were still had four hours of evening left to us.
When we moved to Toronto, we were in search of many things, including the shortest possible commuting time, for Kelly, from her job. This, in a nutshell, would be why.
Two: A call to boycott my publisher, Tor Books, for spurious political reasons has spawned a simultaneous buy-cott. The Twitter hashtag #TheTorYouKnow is filled with recommendations for great books by many terrific writers. If you want to support Tor or its authors and are flat broke, you can! Some of the Best from Tor.com 2014 is available in the Kindle store for free. It’s got my story The Color of Paradox in it, along with so many other great things.
As you’ve probably noticed, I fucking love it when people turn their backs on any kind of hatred, conflict or wankage and instead channel their attention, positive energy and in this case cold hard cash in a concrete and helpful direction. I’m betting and hoping that after this particular surge of activity subsides, we’ll all expand the conversation, so we can talk about great non-Tor authors and publishers who also deserve our clicks, tweets, eyeballs, rave reviews and money. This hashtag, and this buycott, are necessarily about the thing going on today. The wider conversation… well, it encompasses more of us, and I don’t think anyone has forgotten that.
Three: I like to think I’m an optimist, but I’m perilously cautious. I didn’t believe marriage equality would happen in my lifetime… until about three minutes before it was obvious I ought to start planning a legal wedding. Every time the world gets better, in some ephemeral or quantifiable way, part of me is a little surprised. Hoping for the best while keeping expectations low is self-protective, I know. Anyway, the first episode of Sense8 surprised me. There are things about Nomi Marks and her relationship with Amanita that reflect my queer life in ways I’ve never seen on TV. I never expected to see Pride and the gay community, as I’ve experienced it on the flicker box. Blow me down, folks.
Feel free to share if anything rocked your week.
I got up this morning to the news that Child of a Hidden Sea is on the longlist for the Sunburst Award, in the YA category. I’m in good company; in addition to a number of authors whose writing I know but whom I haven’t met personally, the ever-fantastic Caitlin Sweet and Charlene Challenger are on the list.
The full Sunburst 2015 longlist is here.
That’s a very cool thing. So, you know, EEeeee!!!
And here’s another: Kelly and I will be sharing a table of contents together, our first, within the new James Bond anthology coming out from ChiZine Publications
later this year! The anthology is called License Expired and the editors are Madeline Ashby
and David Nickle
My story features Moneypenny and is entitled “Through your Eyes Only”. Kelly’s is called “The Gladiator Lie” and is an alternate ending to From Russia with Love
. She has written on her own blog about why this story makes her obscenely happy
. And she should be. It is a furry, sick, snow-covered, ultra-bizarre thrill ride of a coming of age tale for the lovely honey trap Tatiana Romanova.
And my Moneypenny? I am extremely pleased with it, too! First, because it’s incredibly fun. But also because I’ve done some terribly clever things where voice and point of view are concerned … what this story does is not only nifty for readers, but it was a chance for me to try something new and quite hard and to pull it off.
So, having had our way with the Bond canon, we will be together in smugness between these covers, metaphorically waiting for someone to bring us our dry martinis and all the praise they can heap into an ice bucket.
My contributor’s copy of The Change: Tales of Downfall and Rebirth
arrived today, and after about four failed attempts to get a decent picture of myself with the book, I caved to the obvious and shot it with the cat instead. Lorenzo appreciates a good alternate history, I imagine, given that he’s named for a Medici.
(Fanciful? Who, me?)
It’s an honor to be asked to play around with someone else’s universe, and a favor I hope to return to S.M. Stirling one day. I’m so pleased he trusted me with his world, letting me crayon-scrawl the Change all over the part of Northern Alberta that was my childhood stomping ground. I got to cover it with rodeo in-jokes and local history I learned in grade four and never thought to use, and even took a mild swipe at a certain ubiquitous Canadian coffee/donut franchise. It was a thrill to borrow the keys to the character of Huon Liu, whom I’ve always had a bit of a thing for.
Here’s the opening of my story, “Rate of Exchange.”
The totem marking the pass to the Fortress of Solitude was an enormous man with skin the color of cream, clad in blue and red and with a big “S” emblazoned on his chest.
If not for his size, Finch might have believed him real. The blue of his eyes blazed with lively intensity as they bored down into hers, and his cape rippled in the wind in a way that made him seem as athrum with life as any cub or grown adult. His jet-black hair was real–horse, perhaps?–braided in long strands, bound with beads and feathers. The illusion was so perfect she thought she saw him tilt a brow . . . but then her pinto danced sideways and she saw the old man on the platform, putting a finishing lick of red paint on one red boot.
This kickin’ anthology also has stories by Walter Jon Williams, Kier Salmon, Jane Lindskold, John Barnes and of course by the antho editor and creator of the Emberverse, the aforementioned S.M. Stirling. It’ll be available for sale this weekend. Go, buy, and enjoy!
If I squint as May wraps up, I can see it’s been an insanely productive month. I’ve edited several hundred pages of my current novel, while also writing 7,500 words of critique on student work for Novel Writing III
two weeks ago, another 5,500 this week for the same class, and doing a close edit of about 18K words worth of of student manuscripts. I’ve done a whack of coding on the classroom for my next UCLA Extension Writers’ Program
summer course, Creating Universes, Building Worlds
, begun some long-overdue work on my photo archive, pondered, developed and mostly scrapped an idea for a new novel, flirted with poetry and gone to Peterborough for a ChiSeries reading
, David Nickle, and Madeline Ashby. The reading was hosted by the marvelous Derek Newman-Stille
, and my first glimpse of Peterborough only made me want more. It’s nice to be exploring Ontario a bit, now that we’ve been here a couple years and are mostly over the transition.
The surges of student critique–three down, one to go!–tend to leave me cotton-headed for a couple days afterward, full of interesting ideas for about-how-to-write essays I can’t quite manage to compose. Instead, I muddle around like a goldfish throwing itself at the glass of its own bowl, trying to figure out why I can’t finish coherent sentences or complete much in the way of useful work. That’s been my state for a day or so now: trying to do some high-end thinking and finding myself, instead, working up feverish internal rants over how obviously I’m slacking. Intellectually, I know better, but sometimes the internal supervisor just won’t shut up.
A buddy posted about having the exact same problem today, on Facebook, and that helped a bit.
Tomorrow’s battle shall be to take a ridiculously long (43 page) Stormwrack chapter of incredible complexity and edit it into two easily followed not-so-convoluted pieces. To that lofty goal I shall probably add enormously surmountable tasks, like acquiring food, and vacuuming.
I am sitting in my office with Chinchilla stretched out across my lap, occupying the space atop my left hand, and so I am dictating this blog entry on my phone.
Fiction writing continues to be in revision/wrap-up mode: I have been rereading the last couple novels in the trilogy, just reacquainting myself with every little detail and thinking about where I might insert one more story element into the last book. I am simultaneously trying to trim a novelette down to 7500 words, the better to send it to a specific horror market. (160 words to go!)
Over at UCLA, Novel Writing II opens next week: I will have a dozen writers working on 50 pages apiece, for 10 weeks.
I finished reading Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies on the weekend,and the history book of the moment is A.N. Wilson’s The Victorians. The next novel I will read is for a review, so you’ll hear about it when I’m done.
And television this winter is currently taking the form of re-watching the Laurie/Fry Jeeves and Wooster, watching Marvel’s Agent Carter, and slipping in the occasional episode of Community.
I have not been out to take pictures in a couple weeks, but yesterday on my way to get my glasses adjusted I did get a great look at what was almost certainly a peregrine falcon, fluffed up against the cold as it sat on a branch on D’Arcy Street. I will spare you all the pixelated phone shots. It was, however, miraculous.