My second look back at Eighties horror novels is up on Tor.com. It’s called “The Dog Who Played with Scrabble” and is about Dean Koontz’s Watchers, which I remembered quite imperfectly.
I am now one thousand pages into Stephen King’s It. Part of me wishes I’d picked Christine instead, for reasons having everything to do with time management. But It has been very fun and thought-provoking. I’m enjoying it immensely.
In between the two–and ain’t this a bit of a head-twist?–I have also read and reviewed Shatner Rules: Your Guide to Understanding the Shatnerverse and the World at Large, by William Shatner. My thoughts on that are here.
I am pleased to announce that I will be presenting two workshops at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference this weekend. One will be a worldbuilding workshop based on my ten-week “Creating Universes, Building Worlds” course. The other is called “Taking Baby to the Story Doctor.” Essentially, it’s a trouble-shooting overview–a starting point for for critiquing your own novels and short stories.
I have been hoping to have the opportunity to be a part of this particular conference for some time. It has such a terrific reputation, and the guests this year are amazing (they are always amazing).
When I’m not actually in a workshop I will, of course, be mingling. Let me know if you’re going to be around and would like to connect.
Reading Christopher Buelman’s Those Across the River got me to thinking about some of the horror novels I read during the Eighties, which in turn has led me to revisit a few of those books. The first of these time travel experiments is up at Tor.com, an essay about Peter Straub’s thoroughly wonderful novel Shadowland. Enjoy!
This is my favorite paragraph from my favorite Erik Larson book, The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America. I can see and hear and smell this all so clearly that it’s hard to remember I haven’t been here:
Other ballots followed. Daylight faded to thin broth. The sidewalks filled with men and women leaving work. Typewriters–the women who operated the latest business machines–streamed from the Rookery, the Montauk, and other skyscrapers wearing under their coats the customary white blouse and long black skirt that so evoked the keys of their Remingtons. A lamplighter scuttled along the edges of the crowd igniting the gas jets atop cast-iron poles. Abruptly there was color everywhere: the yellow streetcars and the sudden blues of telegraph boys jolting past with satchels full of joy and gloom; cab drivers lighting the red night-lamps at the backs of their hansoms; a large gilded lion crouching before the hat store across the street. In the high buildings above, gas and electric lights bloomed in the dusk like moonflowers.
I am reading through the Blue Magic page proofs this week (196 days until it’s released!) which means I am going through printed pages that are laid out as the book will be, looking for any small errors. I’ve already gone through the copy-edited manuscript, where all the big errors and inconsistencies have been found and vanquished.
After that, my current plan is to have a hard look at a short story that’s all but done. It’s provisionally titled “Losing Heart among the Tall.” As titles go, I’m not convinced that’s perfect. This polish is half about actually finishing the story, and partly to reacquaint myself with the details of the setting, a place called Stormwrack, which also appears in a number of other things I’ve been working on this year. This includes a story called “Among the Silvering Herd” that I’ve sold to Tor.com. (I’ll let you know when it’s gonna be up, as soon as I know myself!)
This weekend, I’ll be hopping off to VCon to rub elbows with fabulous people like the latest denizen of the Twitterverse, DD Barant, Mary Choo, and Julie McGalliardon. On Saturday evening, at our 9:00 p.m. group reading, I’ll read from my story “Wild Things,” which takes place in the Indigo Springs universe, between the events of the two novels.
Once “Losing Heart among the Tall”‘s events and details are fresh in my mind, I’ll dig into the other stuff set in Stormwrack, for all of October.
Finally, if that goes well and I can wrap up by Halloween, I’m thinking of joining a number of my Nanowrimo buddies-in-crime in November by setting myself a goal of 50,000 words of new short fiction. Since I mostly write novelettes in the 7500-8500 word range, that’d make for six stories. I thought another squid story about Ruthless, perhaps, to go with “The Town on Blighted Sea,” another Stormwrack story for sure, and I have a few other ideas. But I don’t as yet have six ideas, and I thought I might throw the floor open for prompts, requests, challenges, a contest… somesuch thing.
Have any of you done this, either opened the floor to challenges in this way or contributed to a call for prompts? How did it work? Was there a prize? Were you happy with the result?