Armor, Icewine, and the Afterlife

February 18th, 2012

“The Halberdier, by Moonlight,” my “slipstream plus armor” story, is now out in the Fall 2011 issue of On Spec.  With my name on the cover!  Pretty cool.  And a gorgeous cover it is:

On Spec, Fall 2011

The story comments on death and the afterlife, and features icewine: a unique wine made using grapes that are still frozen.  This removes a lot of the water, because it’s ice crystals, which leaves all the other stuff–sugars, alcohol, flavor compounds–much more concentrated. That results in a wine that is thick and syrupy and sweet.

On Spec, a long-standing literary SF/F journal out of Canada, was great to work with.  And I enjoy the irony that a ‘zine from Canada, one of the biggest producers of icewine, gave the story a home. :)

(Yes, for anyone who’s wondering, I did buy a bottle of icewine as  “research” for the story. :) )

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Capclave Postlude

November 1st, 2011

I had a great time at Capclave, a couple weekends ago.  (Except for the con-crud that delayed my postlude…)

Highlights included moderating a small press panel with Neil Clarke, Sean Wallace, and Mike Walsh of Old Earth Books. Meeting BCS authors Adam Corbin Fusco and David Milstein; hanging out with Jen and Melissa. Chatting again with BCS author and novelist Genevieve Valentine. Seeing co-GOH Cat Valente again (I met her last year at World Fantasy, when the BCS party woke her up at 2 AM :) ).

Speaking with James Morrow, who lectured my year at Odyssey. His novel about Darwin’s lady assistant flying a steampunk airship over the Amazon, which he read from at ReaderCon 2010, is in rewrites and hasn’t yet found a publisher. Which is sad because the excerpt was great. He really liked the cool BCS flyers I had.

Chatting in the bar for hours with co-GOH Carrie Vaughn, a fellow Odyssey grad and bestseller who I had never met in person.  She is mostly known for her urban fantasy, but she’s read tons of epic fantasy and published several dozen short stories, and knows a ton about the field.

The Terry Pratchett surprise visit. I’m not familiar with his work, but I know he’s a very clever and engaging guy. The excerpts that his assistant read from his new book were quite droll (although the assistant read for way too long and interjected his own opinions too often).

They only made enough time to take one question, and it wasn’t about his books but about a BBC documentary he had helped make on assisted suicide for terminally ill. He talked for twenty minutes about that, made even more profound because of his own health situation, and it was utterly fascinating. (I will be blogging about that specifically later.)  Someone in the crowd put it on youtube, and Capclave posted an mp3 of the audio.

The GOH interview. I didn’t know how they would do it with two GOHs. It turned out that Carrie and Cat know each other, so they interviewed each other and took pre-written audience questions.  It was the best GOH interview I’ve ever seen. They were engaging, witty, and profound. Topics included the sociological underpinnings of the mythoses of vampires and werewolves; writing for shared-world anthologies; writing goals and achieving them; where they live and the sense of place in their writing.

I was only at the con for a day and a half, but I had a great time seeing these cool people and having great conversations. That seems to be what I mostly get out of cons–talking to clever people about interesting things.  I’ll definitely be back next year.

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At Capclave this Weekend

October 12th, 2011

This weekend I will be at Capclave, the local D.C.-area SF/F con.

The co-Guest of Honor this year is bestselling writer Carrie Vaughn, a fellow Odyssey grad.  I’ve heard her writing lectures in podcasts (they’re very insightful), but I’ve never met her in person.

The con again this year has lots of cool literary SF/F programming.  I will be on several panels, again this year:

Friday 8:00 pm:
Short Fiction: Where is the new good short fiction found now?

Saturday 11:00 am:
Small Press Publishing: Running a publishing company, publishing a magazine or semi-prozine.

Saturday 1:00 pm:
When Characters Threaten to Take Over

Alas, no reading this year, for some reason–I did ask for one.

I will probably swing by the hotel bar Friday after my panel, at 9PM.  I’m not sure how long I’ll be around Saturday, and I probably won’t be there Sunday.  If you see me, feel free to grab a snazzy BCS flyer and say hello.

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Read to Write

September 15th, 2011

A recent article on Salon.com laments that more and more aspiring writers don’t read much.

Reading has always been viewed as an essential activity for writers, whether for priming the creative pump, checking out other authors’ technique, researching the field, or reading for fun.  (Which of course is how all writers started out.)

Writers who don’t read can end up with huge knowledge gaps in any of the above, which often show through in their work.  My favorite is the infamous case of an epic fantasy novelist who had only ever read one fantasy novel before writing his own (and a third-generation one at that: Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth).  It was a classic case of the reader thinking (as the Salon article puts it) “If this guy can do it, so can I!”  The (epically awful) results speak for themselves.

Alas, I’m as guilty of not-reading as anyone.  I do read magazine subs for hours every day, which makes me think a bit about writing and technique, but that’s not the same.  I blame it on not having much time, which is always a lame excuse, and on being very hard to impress.

But over the summer I started my reread of George R.R. Martin’s Ice and Fire books, in preparation for the new one.  I’m enjoying them all over again, and I’m getting a lot of new insight.  I’ve always admired his stuff, and I have kept current on his short fiction.  Maybe it’s that I’m reading slower this time or I know more about writing than when they first came out, or I’m thinking more about novels lately, but I’m seeing lots of very cool story things and writing things.

So maybe this will get me back on the reading wagon.  At least, until I finish all 5,500 pages of GRRM. :)

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