Oh hey. I have an Arisia schedule. And apparently no sense of timing.
Saturday, 2:30pm: Portal: Beyond the Cake (Andy Hicks (m), Maddy Myers, Margaret Ronald, Carolyn VanEseltine, Brianna Wu)
How does a game that started out as a side project by some kids playing around with the Half Life 2 engine, become a geek culture phenomenon? Why does an abandoned laboratory ruled over by a passive-aggressive supercomputer resonate with us? Is it the perfect metaphor for life in 21st century America?
(I am so looking forward to this. I loved presenting my Portal paper at Readercon, and I’m very curious to see what we come up with. Also, I have opinions on this subject. Oh, do I have opinions.)
Saturday, 7:00pm: Reading: Hashway, Nurenberg, & Ronald
Authors Kelly Hashway, David Nurenberg, and Margaret Ronald will be reading selections from their works.
(I’m a little torn — do I read the Governess and the Lobster again, or do I try something new and unpublished about mad science? Or go with an older story?)
Sunday, 1:00pm: Keeping Track of the Action (Mary Catelli, Debra Doyle (m), Suzanne Palmer, Margaret Ronald)
Let’s say you’re writing a complicated plot with many characters, scenes in multiple places, and perhaps a convoluted time sequence. How do you keep track of it all? Spreadsheet? Story board? Or do you keep it all in your head? What if you have a pile of background research to keep track of for the technological or historical realism that you’ve researched? What tools keep it all organized for you?
(Since I’ve used methods that range from Scrivener to complicated POV charts to scraps of paper tucked into notebooks, I can speak a little bit on the usefulness of each. Spoiler: scraps of paper are not the way to go.)
I will likely only be attending Saturday and Sunday, since I’m hoping to claim tonight for some quiet time and revision. This draft has fewer flaws than I’d thought, but it’s also taking longer to revise. Bah.
First things first: I am thrilled to announce that “The Governess and the Lobster,” originally published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, will be included in The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2013, edited by Rich Horton. I am incredibly honored to be in such company, and especially with such a fun little story as this one. (It’s also more fodder for my theory that some of my best stories come from writing down whatever damnfool first sentence pops up and going from there.)
But that’s not the only lobster-related piece of news. Look what arrived in the mail recently, surrounded by the detritus of the day’s post!
Yes, it’s a mechanical lobster! My very own mechanical lobster, here to sit on my desk and glare balefully at unwanted mail. The wonderful and talented AuntieLou gave it to me in November, and it’s just taken me so dratted long to get the photos together.
This is absolutely delightful. I couldn’t ask for a better gift. Thank you, AuntieLou, and thanks to all of you who’ve read my stories. May you all have a joyous New Year and may the holiday season bring you joy and, if you like, eggnog.
Meanwhile, I’m going to try to feed the
lobtster lobster what it likes best.
The promised lobster will have to wait until I can get my camera to 1) work and 2) communicate with my computer. Drat.
In the meantime, here’s something to give you an idea of what I’ve been working on: Read the rest of this entry »
Edited by Ann VanderMeer, Steampunk III: Steampunk Revolution includes legends of the genre and new talents, pushing the boundaries of steampunk and driving it far beyond corsets and goggles. (Although there’s plenty of that, too, for those who like a bit of goggling with their fiction.) My short story “Salvage,” originally in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, appears in this volume, and I’m thrilled and honored to be in such company. It’s a beautiful book, full of work by outstanding authors. Take a look at these reviews if you want a second opinion (Shelf Awareness, Tor.com).
And oh hey, it’s just in time for the holidays! Hmmm…know anyone who’d appreciate a gorgeous book of amazing steam-powered stories?
Tomorrow: lobster! And after…maybe some word on what I’ve been up to.
The Best of Beneath Ceaseless Skies Year Three is now out! My story “Letters of Fire”appears within, along with a lot of fantastic work from BCS authors. If you have a moment, go take a look. (There’s also a special offer at the moment — buy The Best of BCS Year Three and get a copy of Year One or Year Two free!)
Work on the new draft is going well, but I’m outlining about a chapter ahead of where I’m writing the draft. I feel a little like those cartoons where Bugs Bunny is laying down the railroad track about two feet ahead of the train (I’m sure there is a Looney Tunes cartoon with that schtick, but damned if I can remember which one). My general outline remains the same, but the details — the passage from A to B — is changing day by day. Still, it’s getting done and on the page, and I like how it’s turning out. On!
Some days it’s a slow stream, just strong enough to keep the mill wheel turning.
Some days I can feel the story forming, still so fragile that if I poke at it too much it will collapse into a heap of unusable shards.
Some days I have to catch it before it slips away — or, more likely, before I realize that it’s a bad idea.
Some days it is a bad idea, and I do it anyway, giggling over just how ludicrous this is and what am I even thinking to write this. (Somehow, those often seem better when I come back to the drafts.)
Some days the plots spin out one after the other until I’m curled up in bed well after I should have fallen asleep, scrawling barely-legible sentences in my notebook.
Some days there’s a pressure at the back of my head because I’ve almost got it, I’ve almost found the key, and when the last piece slides into place it’s like the world finds a new axis.
Some days it’s just putting one stone on another.
And some days I can look back and see that yes, I’ve built a lot and yes, there’s still a lot to add, and the world is just getting bigger around me.
Hello world. I’m writing again. How are you?
Let me say this straight off: Readercon was delightful.
However, I went from Readercon to a lovely vacation and then smack into a personal clusterfuck when I got home, so I’ve had very little brainspace to think of putting together a con report or even remember that I have a blog in the first place. Things are better now, but I will not be sad to see the last of this July. Ugh.
In the meantime, I have more revisions to take care of — including the Portal paper that was very well received! — and stories to send out. And strangely enough, that sort of work is a balm for many aches.
Not much going on for me at Readercon — one reading and one short talk.
Friday July 13, 9:00 PM: Carrying a Gate through the Labyrinth: Portal and Greer Gilman’s “Girl, Implicated”.
Greer Gilman’s essay “Girl, Implicated: The Child in the Labyrinth in the Fantastic” posits an archetypal female journey in which “the solitary girl child in a labyrinth… charts her own way out of it, driven by her curiosity and courage.” A recent interactive take on this motif appears in the video game Portal and its sequel, in which a lone woman must find her way through a deserted testing facility while facing her own “genius or nemesis” in the form of the game’s main antagonist. Margaret Ronald will explore how Portal and Portal 2 propose not only a series of labyrinths-within-labyrinths but a new approach to escape by situating this narrative in a gameplay context. (This idea lodged in my head at Boskone and would not go away. It’s a little off the track for Readercon, but I think I’ve hit on something interesting. Also, oh crap why did I propose anything even pseudoacademic at Readercon I am going to be eaten alive aaaaaaa.)
Sunday July 15, 11:30 AM: Reading. Margaret Ronald. Margaret Ronald reads her short story “The Governess and the Lobster.” (Matron Jenkins on a Sunday morning. What more could you want?)
I’m planning on staying Friday night, leaving Saturday afternoon for some family time, and returning Sunday morning for the reading. I also intend to block out some time specifically for wandering through the dealers’ room and gazing longingly at the many, many books I cannot carry away with me.
Huh. I really have been hiding under a rock, haven’t I?
Well, it’s been a productive rock — a first draft of a short story, revisions on an older one, and 450 pages of other revisions, half of which are now covered in purple pen. Yes, it’s that last revising push, and then back to composition. I also have my Readercon schedule, which I’ll be posting later this week and about which I only have this to say: oh CRAP what have I gotten myself into?
In the meantime, though, there’s a new anthology out from Beneath Ceaseless Skies: Ceaseless Steam, a collection of steampunk stories that have appeared in BCS. “Salvage” appears in this anthology, for those of you who need more of the Professora in your life, as well as many other fantastic stories.
Hope you enjoy it!
This is the first Memorial Day weekend in a good long while that I haven’t been at Wiscon, and I can’t help feeling a little melancholy. I’d gotten very used to that moment of connection and thought and outright silliness. (And there’s a very materialistic part of me that misses the clothing swap, but since I hit the jackpot last year I really have no right to complain.) My thoughts are with everyone there; raise a glass for me.
In the meantime, I’m drowning my sorrows in Rock Band, cinnamon rolls, and hiking, not in that order. I also took a quick break from revision to write something new, and while I’m still too close to know whether I did a good job, it feels like a good story. Not least because I got to write several mad-science monologues.
Best part of revision recently: fixing a logistics problem and in the process making one character delightfully more sinister. No matter how well it’s justified or how true it is in-story, the line “this is for your own good” immediately makes the scene a little more unsettling.
This is what happens when I get eaten by revision*: I miss important things! “The Governess and the Lobster,” an incredibly silly little story, is now up at Beneath Ceaseless Skies. It’s…well…this was one of those stories where I wrote the first line, thought “This is ridiculous,” and then went ahead with it anyway. It’s also one that I love to read aloud, if only because I can almost get the right amount of gravel in Matron Jenkins’ voice. If you’re interested in epistolary stories, a few skewered Gothic tropes, and automata, go take a look!
Dear Matron Jenkins,
For the record, I want you to know that the mechanical lobster is not my fault.
* more than a third done! Not counting the three chapters I’ll have to write from scratch…oh well.
Best part of revision today: bringing back some minor characters in order to create some emotional resolution. Also, there’s something satisfying about cutting out whole swaths of text. I know I’ll have to write more to make up for it, but the act of paring down has its own satisfaction.
Best part of today’s revision: realizing that I can fix most of the problems with a chapter by moving the action to another location — which will give me a little more of a chance to flesh out a previously-flattish character. Simple solutions rock.
Best part of revision today: reducing an entire chapter’s worth of comments to “ADD SHENANIGANS.”
Best part of revision so far: finding a comment of “FUCK YEAH!” and a scribbled heart. I love my crit group.