My wife, my niece and my brother-in-law all have birthdays this week, and so does Tor.com. To celebrate, the latter has collected all of its original fiction into one great big free download of love. You can get it here by registering at the site. It includes three stories by me: “The Cage,” “Among the Silvering Herd,” and “Wild Things.”
Back in Sunnydale, meanwhile, it’s Halloween, and Dawn’s feeling all the way frisky, if you know what I mean.
If it’s Tuesday, my Buffy essay must be up at Tor.com. It’s called “The Wonderful World of Oz,” (it’s about “Phases”) and if the overall lycanthrope vibe pleases you on this fine spring morning, consider having a look at my baby werewolf has two mommies story, “The Cage,” also at Tor.
This weekend I will be appearing at Norwescon in Seattle. I will be reading from Blue Magic, which is out in one short week (I hope to have a few advance copies to give away to lucky con-goers!) Here’s the rest of my schedule:
Friday, 10 am – Adventure Stories
Swashbucklers, pirates, oh my? What makes an adventure story different from other science fiction and fantasy stories? And, do most adventure stories get the action right?
Friday, 11:30 am A.M. Dellamonica reads Blue Magic
A reading from the sequel of the Sunburst Award-Winning Indigo Springs (Rated PG)
Friday, 2 pm Interview and Q&A with Guest of Honor Stephen Baxter
Not gonna be there? Want me to ask Baxter something? Comment soon, comment often!
Saturday, Noon, The Blogger Effect
Has blogging ruined the fine art of editing? What do we gain (and lose) with publishing spontaneous writing? There is a growing network of SF/F professional and aspiring writers connected via a variety of blogging communities. Is it breaking down the barriers between pro, amateur, and fan-ficcer? Does it function as an informal online writers’ workshop, a support group, or a black hole of cat-vacuuming?
Saturday 3 pm Autograph Session
Saturday, 6 pm. What I Wish Someone Had Told Me
Established SF/F writers discuss lessons they learned the hard way that they wish someone had told them when they were first starting out.
This week’s BtVS rewatch on Tor.com is a grab bag of fun (but not so crucial) episodes like “Inca Mummy Girl” and “Lie to Me.” I’m going to do this periodically–gather up a few of the smaller building blocks of each season’s arc, rather than try to inflate each into its own towering essay. If one of these is your favorite, go add a comment! Tell me I’m a cad for ignoring your special eppie!
Seriously, the fannish discussions that have spilled out in the comments threads on these rewatches have been every bit as cool as the posts themselves. Right now, for example, we’re debating whether the early episodes had too much of a YA feel, and which TV shows (of the non-soap opera variety) were the first to do season-long arcs. Gardner Dozois has suggested The Fugitive. Anyone got anything earlier?
I’m a few weeks ahead on these posts, so my mission this week is to rewatch “Phases.” Which, I realize in retrospect, had an undeniable influence on my one werewolf story, “The Cage,” at least to the extent that there’s a baby werewolf mentioned in the Oz story.
It’s now 35 days until the Blue Magic release. I’m thinking that, if you happened to be planning to buy it from an actual bookstore, it’s probably not too early to ring them up and ask them to bring in a copy for you. (I tell you this not to pressure, but because in Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto, people wrote me to say they had to wait a few weeks after the official Indigo Springs release to get it in a local store. Ordering in advance may help.) Or, if you’re local, there’s going to be a launch at the UBC Bookstore downtown… and I have a date: April 19th! Anyone who can make it is invited. Friends of anyone who can make it are invited! I will get back to you all on a time as soon as I’ve confirmed it.
I have been trying to finish up a few non-fiction projects before diving into the next one(s) and the story intros are one of the things have been waiting. I set out to write a little something about those stories of mine that are available online in some format, and now I’ve pretty much finished all of them except for my baby werewolf story, “The Cage.” Saving it for last seemed reasonable, since it’s the piece that appeared most recently. It has only been a year since I wrote it, so it’s far less of a blast from the past than something like “A Key to the Illuminated Heretic.”
But I realized last week that when “The Cage,” made the LOCUS recommended reading list, it also went on what they call the drop-down list for the LOCUS reader’s poll. This probably should have been a no-brainer, since I did once write a fair number of reviews for LOCUS and contribute to that list, but I didn’t make the connection until I bought my tickets for the LOCUS shindig in Seattle in June. There are so many lovely things by people I adore on the drop-down list: M.K. Hobson‘s The Native Star is on there, and so is Chill, by Elizabeth Bear and stories like Cat Rambo’s “Clockwork Fairies.”
But this is a wide-open to all readers kind of poll, and you don’t have to restrict yourself to the drop down list. You can write in books and stories, like–for example–Jessica Wynne Reisman‘s “The Vostrasovitch Clockwork Animal and Traveling Forest Show at the End of the World,” or … hey, tell me about all the great fiction you published last year, folks! You’ll be reminding me about stuff I loved, or at the very least stuff I meant to read and temporarily lost in the pile.
Anyway. “The Cage” began with an anthology invite: my agent knew someone who was doing a book of urban fantasy stories with a specific theme–she’d told ‘em I was just the thing, and I got the guidelines not long after that. I started researching March 2, 2010 and had a polished draft in hand by April 5th. But not fast enough: the antho filled. Between one thing and another and with a rewrite in between, it ended up zipping off to Tor.com on June 8th, where it got to be the final story in their urban fantasy spotlight.
As my intros for “What Song the Sirens Sang” and “Faces of Gemini” probably show, I love story assignments that come with a bit of a restriction in them. They push me out of the box, moving me into areas I wouldn’t necessarily have gone on my own. Some of my strongest shorts are the ones I wrote for Mojo: Conjure Stories, Alternate Generals III (v. 3), and The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm.
In this case, I merged the less familiar element–home renovation–with my own backyard. I made extensive use of my neighborhood and certain communities within Vancouver in writing “The Cage.” The Britannia Community Center branch of Vancouver Public Library, where the story begins, is just a few blocks from my home in little Italy. It is where I pick up my VPL holds and where I got my blue belt in aikido.
The physical terrain is quite faithfully rendered, in other words.
The community is stickier: people always are. But the story draws on the best of my experiences as an activist in the local feminist and queer communities. Catching us on a fictional best day maybe presents a bit of a rose colored view, but it’s not as though that version of the community doesn’t exist. It does–just not all the time. I believe that humans, in singles and in groups, oscillate in and out of states of perfection. That the statement “Nobody’s perfect” should be amended to “Nobody’s always perfect.”
In “The Cage,” Jude’s alternate family discovers or creates one of those perfect moments–one of those days when everyone’s pitching in and pulling together, when nobody’s too burned out or sick or pissed off or scraping after funds or endlessly chewing after consensus on an irrelevant frippery, at a meeting that’s gone on far too long. It’s Team Good Guys FTW, and Chase, Paige and Jude are the ones who benefit.
All that, and it even has romance!
It looks like my baby werewolf story, “The Cage,” is available on iTunes at last. I don’t know about Indigo Springs, but will check soon.
Last year, at about this time, I set out the following 2010 goals:
1. Draft a novel.
2. Finish a novel.
3. Draft a story.
4. Finish a story.
5. Sell a story.
(This is just the fiction portion of a larger business plan. Non-fiction, promotional work, and other targets are separate.)
Draft and finish were separate items specifically because I’m working on multiple projects: drafting one book didn’t necessarily mean finishing that same book.
As plans go, this one looks rather fuzzy. The reason specific projects weren’t named (Finish this book, draft that story) in the above list reflects the fact that I spent a fair amount of 2010 waiting for other parties to get back to me on things. The timing on when I received edits for my next novel, for example, was entirely up to my editor’s schedule, and out of my hands.
So I kept it modest, and a little vague. And, of course, a nice thing about modest goals is that it’s often possible to overachieve. So here’s what I accomplished, working from the above plan:
1. Drafted two novels.
2. Finished one novel.
3. Wrote a series proposal and two sample chapters, polished it all, and sent it off.
4. Wrote a grant proposal and thirty sample pages, polished that, and sent it off.
5. Drafted, finished, sold and celebrated publication of a novelette, “The Cage.”
6. Drafted three short stories and embarked on a fourth that proved to be a false start.
7. Finished two 2009 stories, which are now off at market.
8. Sent a novel to market.
9. Sent out material relating to a potential short story collection, after I won the Sunburst.
Tor.com’s Urban Fantasy spotlight continues and there are goodies on offer–if you post a comment here by Tuesday, you can win a grab bag of books (including, possibly, mine). There’s an editorial round table discussion on the heroes and heroines of paranormal romance, a story, “Olga,” by C.T. Adams and many other intriguing and delightful goodies.
I’ve spent this morning experimenting with my various electronic gadgets, by way of podcasting my own novelette for this TOR.COM spotlight. “The Cage” is eight thousand words long and takes over forty minutes to read, so naturally I did a few shorter dry runs, testing out bits and pieces of equipment. For one of these tests, I used the six-minute snippet that I read far and wide at Broad Universe Rapidfire Readings in 2009. That’s right, folks, I am finally making good on my promise to record and post the Indigo Springs sex scene. If you don’t mind a few spoilers or you’ve already read the book, you can listen to it by clicking here.
I do have a Rapidfire-sized snippet of Blue Magic, too, and I will post that in the not too distant. It’s not nearly as (cough) romantic.
It’s hot out. I live near a busy street, and I’ve had the windows shut as I made recordings, so that there wouldn’t be too much road noise. A side bonus of the fact that it’s ninety-plus degrees in my office is that the cats didn’t feel a need to contribute–Rumble, in particular, punctuated my last podcasting attempt rather ferociously.
Now I’m going to crack some windows and try to get this place ventilated before I venture out in search of library books and fresh fruit.
So much of my knowledge seems to come from the Twitterverse these days: I was flipping through the tabs on my browser yesterday when a SFWA tweet caught my eye. It had my name on it, and Cory Doctorow‘s and when I hit the link it gave me the happy news that Indigo Springs (and books by Cory, and Charles de Lint, and Karl Schroeder, and Robert Charles Wilson) are up for the Sunburst Award in the adult category.
Congratulatory messages started coming in about twenty seconds later. I’ve tried to answer them all; if I missed you somehow, thank you! I am excited, thrilled, and frankly boggled to be on any list with these guys. A laundry list would be amazing–though, admittedly, weird. A short list? Wow.
I feel awash in good things at the moment, actually. I’m taking it as a memo from the Universe, to the effect that good things, like crappy ones, sometimes come in bunches. Response to the first Journey interview, with Louise Marley, has been very positive and pleasing, for example, and I am lining up the next interview even now. Moving to the realm of personal satisfaction with the whole writing process, I have been working this week on what I expect to be the final edit (before it goes off to the agent, that is) of Daughters of Zeus … and I am sincerely pleased with it. It’s gone from the scabby feral draft stage to something quite limber and pleasing.
And while my cup is runnething over, I’d also like to announce that my urban fantasy novelette, “The Cage,” will be appearing on Tor.com next month as part of their Urban Fantasy spotlight. This was a thoroughly fun story to write and I hope you all enjoy it. Badger and Snuffy were kind enough to read an early draft of the piece–thank you both!