As I mentioned a while ago, my short story "Centuries of Kings" is going to be in the charity anthology Neverland's Library, whose sales will benefit the literacy charity First Book.
Before it can do that, though, the anthology has to be funded. You can find them over at Indiegogo -- note that this is a "flexible funding" campaign, which means all pledges will be honored, even if the project doesn't make its goal. You can also see updates over there, with shiny things like the cover art (which is really, really lovely). If you scroll down the project page, you can also find a list of the contributing authors -- the ones accepted so far, that is, as submissions are still open.
So click around, and if you like what you see, lend them (us) your support. You get good stories and a good cause out of it. :-)
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By that title, I don't just mean "I'll be going to X place during June" -- I mean I'll be in X place for essentially the entirety of June.
Some of you may be familiar with Duke TIP. (Others of you may know the very similar CTY instead.) This is a program I participated in as a kid; when I was twelve, I went to Davidson for three weeks to read and talk about science fiction short stories. The next year it was marine biology in Galveston; then it was tropical ecology in Costa Rica; then geology and a bit of archaeology in New Mexico. TIP is probably the single coolest thing I got to do during my adolescence.
And now I'm going back, this time on the other side of things. I'm heading off to North Carolina in early June to teach a creative writing course, focused on SF/F/H. It will be ridiculously intense: class runs for two three-hour blocks every day, M-F, and another block on Saturday morning. That's thirty-three hours of instruction per week, for three weeks straight. It's "Clarion for twelve-year-olds."
I'm not only allowed, I'm expected to make this the most awesome and challenging three weeks those kids have ever seen. We're talking about seventh- and eighth-graders who have scored a 570 or better on the verbal portions of the SAT. Want to know what I'm giving them for a "how to write" textbook? Delany. I'll be lecturing a bit, but there will be much more in the way of discussion, and they'll be doing writing exercises until their brains fall out. My challenge will be to figure out how to pace things such that they get enough variety to keep the brain-falling-out stage from happening too soon.
I won't be blogging the process as I go, because I don't think that would be appropriate. But I'll probably have thoughts about it after the fact, and I'll certainly share my syllabus/readings/etc. In the meantime, if I'm less chatty online than usual during June, you'll know why.
It's because my brain will be on the floor, along with those of my students. :-)
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It never rains but it pours.
Remember how my laptop was going kaput a while ago, and I asked for tablet advice? (Thanks for all the responses, btw. I ended up going with a Google Nexus, and I'm quite pleased with it. In fact, that's what I'm writing this post on.)
Well, my desktop has been acting strangely, to the point where I think I should look into getting a new one. The current one is pretty elderly, and I think I'd rather make the switch before it goes completely belly-up.
So now I'm looking for opinions on that end of the spectrum. I'm a Windows user (please don't try to get me to convert), and 90% of the work done on that machine falls into the categories of word processing and internet, so I don't need anything massive. I am running Lightroom these days, though, and I've found that sometimes I can't even play Steam games on the thing because they're too advanced for its graphics card; ergo, I'm likely to aim a bit higher this time than my usual bare-bones build. Current machine is a Dell, as was its predecessor; I've been happy with them, but I haven't been keeping up with the state of the art, and I don't know whether I should be looking at other manufacturers.
Corollary question: Windows 8? kniedzw tells me I will haaaaaaaaaaaate it, because I started computing back in the days of DOS, and object to operating systems that try to keep me from rummaging around in their guts. I'd be interested in feedback from people who have used it at all.
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1) Sure, I'll be kind and put the big one first. I've sold a story to Tor.com! "Mad Maudlin," a novelette based on the folksong variously known as "Bedlam Boys" and "Tom o'Bedlam." It won't be published until late this year or early next, but I'm extremely pleased nonetheless.
2) One straggler from the ANHoD blog tour: an interview with me at LibraryThing, wherein (among other things) I divulge how kniedzw and I approached the most important question one must consider upon moving in together: whether to combine libraries or not.
3) Latest post at BVC is on superstitions.
Edited to add:
4) A Natural History of Dragons is #8 on the Locus bestseller list for May. Go, little book, go!
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Happy May Day!
I really, really want to list as one of the books I read this month, "the first third of Quicksilver." Because really. I read and read and read, and and it was an entire book's worth of reading. It just wasn't the entirety of that book. Not by a long chalk. Stephenson, you are engaging, but also a very wordy bastard.
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A belated entry to this series, on account of it not being out yet when I finished my re-read of all of Diana Wynne Jones' books.
Reflections: On the Magic of Writing is a collection of various essays and lectures she gave, on various subjects related to writing (her own and that of others). A couple of these I had read before; "The Origins of Changeover" was the foreword to the edition I read, and I tracked down scans of "The Heroic Ideal: A Personal Odyssey" after seeing it referenced by rushthatspeaks. (Very glad to now have a proper reprint, as the essay does wonders for my ability to understand certain parts of Fire and Hemlock.) Most of this, though, was new.
It makes for interesting reading, though certainly a few details get repetitive -- these pieces span decades, and there are certain things, particularly biographical incidents, that she brought up more than once. The two things that fascinated me most were her knowledge of pre-modern English literature (much of which I haven't personally read), and her comments on her own books. The former made me feel in places like I was reading pameladean's Tam Lin, because it threatened to leave me with a reading list of rather obscure works. The latter . . . I don't know. Sometimes it strips the magic away to know how the magic got made, but I think that here it just turns into a different sort of magic for me, because I can think about her books as a writer as well as a fan. When she talks about similarities between her characters, I nod at some and blink at others, and wonder if she didn't see the similarities elsewhere, or simply didn't bring them up. (Upon reflection, I see what she means about the commonality of Torquil and Tacroy, and also, after much more reflection, Thomas Lynn and the Goon. But what about Tacroy and Thomas, and also Howl? Or for that matter, Mark and Herrel, who are a straight-up deployment of her habit of "splitting" a character type and using different facets?)
I wish we had more of that stuff. I would love to know what sparked the ideas for all of her books, because Diana Wynne Jones wrote books that are nothing like mine, and knowing where they came from helps me understand the result. I also, quite selfishly, want to read all the unrevised first drafts and unfinished beginnings she had stuffed into drawers, because I crave more, and I'm (probably) never going to get it. I know it wouldn't be the same, and it very well might not be good, but I crave it anyway. This book made me sad all over again that Diana Wynne Jones is dead, and that I never had the chance to meet her. I would have liked to thank her in person, and having read this book, I feel certain she would have understood.
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It took me substantially longer than expected (the last scene was an absolute bear to write), but I just finished "To Rise No More."
Needs revision, of course, but right now, that doesn't matter. What matters is that I've managed to write a short story! And not even one that was spoken for before I wrote it. The last seven things I wrote sold on their first trip out the door, because they were either solicited by editors or very nearly so, i.e. I knew that if I wrote them, then so-and-so was extremely likely to buy the result. Which isn't a bad position to be in, of course -- but it's less good when you have to use that as a motivation to actually get the thing done. This one, I wrote because I wanted to.
Hopefully somebody will buy the result. :-)
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Okay, this is really nifty. The blog Paper/Plates bills itself as "exploring the world through food and literature" . . . and someone there just posted a review of A Natural History of Dragons, followed by a recipe for a vegan alfredo sauce inspired by the book. (On the grounds that Isabella's lifestyle does not fit her culture's expectations.)
I think fanworks in general are cool, but I never thought anybody would make a pasta sauce for one of my books!
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Back in 2010, I decided that (as with the Wheel of Time before it), I was done reading A Song of Ice and Fire until the series was finished. I hadn't read any of the books since A Feast for Crows came out in 2005, and knew I would need to re-read to refresh my memory whenever A Dance with Dragons finally emerged -- and then would have to re-read again some years after that, when we got book six, etc. Better to just stop and wait, however long that took. I sold my copies of the first four (to free up shelf space) and washed my hands of it.
About a month later, Martin announced the Really No We Mean It publication date for Dance, but that was okay: I was at peace with my decision. It came out in 2011, and I didn't read it, and I went on not reading it.
But in discussing the show with friends, I've grown tired of dodging spoilers (sometimes unsuccessfully). So I kind of wanted to read the book, just to fix that problem. On the other hand, it had now been more than seven years since I read the books, and I knew that without a refresher, I wouldn't find Dance as satisfying as I otherwise might. And yet, I didn't want to take the time to re-read that much stuff. On the other other hand, teleidoplex told me I wouldn't find it satisfying whether I re-read or not.
Reader, she was right.
I am putting this behind a cut because a) it's long and b) if your personal parade is a happy one, I don't want to rain all over it. Because I was not impressed with this book. No, that falls short: there are things in here that decrease my enjoyment of previous books. If reading about that is going to make you sad, then click away now.
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