Checking In

My contributor’s copy for the reprint of “Night, in Dark Perfection” in China’s Science Fiction World arrived a few days ago, shown left. I can’t read it, but I hear the story wasn’t bad.

I’ll be participating in a group flash fiction reading at @littlefallslibrary  (Little Falls, NY) on Wednesday, November 13, at 6PM. Stop by if you’re in the area.

Little Fire & Fog has been selling well since its release (hard to do before release unless there was a pre-order. Which there wasn’t. I’m not that patient.). My thanks to everyone who took a chance on it. There’s one stellar review up already.

Otherwise, I’m starting a new project that’s going to take a while. Not saying what it is just yet because I don’t want to jinx it, but at least some of you will be pleased to hear..when I get around to telling you, that is. Until then, the occasional cryptic update might be all there is.

 

Little Fire and Fog

I’m running a bit late today, I know. Not as late as last week, when the blog didn’t get posted until Wednesday, but late nonetheless. The image to the left is a big part of the reason. Also, I can’t wait until Wednesday this week since I have Jury Duty. Another motivation to get this wrapped up while I still can.

The long novella project, Little Fire & Fog goes live today. My editor got through with it late last week, the rewrite is finished, and I’m doing this as an indie book. It came in just over 35k, too short for an official novel, but it doesn’t miss it by much. I like the way it turned out. Now we’ll see if anyone else does.

There was a time I wouldn’t even consider going indie on anything. These days and for some projects, it’s really the only path that makes sense. LF&F is more akin to the type of fractured fairy tale I used to publish in Realms of Fantasy back in the day. That was then and now isn’t, and the market has changed, as it always does. There’s no professional market at all for that sort of thing just now. I like writing them, but if I want anyone to actually read them, this is the only game in town.

Finally, shout-outs to Scott Andrews and Kij Johnson for their World Fantasy Award wins. Congratulations to all the winners but likewise to the nominees. It really is an honor just to be nominated. I remember.

 

Rewrite Time

First Reader has returned the manuscript for the novella project, so it’s rewrite time. I’m about fifty pages in, trying not to rush, trying not to dawdle, and above all trying to get it right.

Some writers hire editors for indie projects, which is a good idea in general. Me, I married the best one I know. She’s thorough and pulls no punches, even if she does have to live with me. Which is probably why she pulls no punches. Just between you and me, I think she enjoys them.

For the good of the work, of course.

I don’t normally have so much trouble with titles, but this one is beating me up. I still haven’t been able to improve on my original. I also don’t think the original quite does it justice. That is, it describes the story perfectly to me, but that’s not the title’s job. Its job, it should go without saying, is to give enough of a hint to the reader to let them know this is worth reading. It’s a tough gig, titles. Almost like a separate skill from writing the story in the first place.

Just as an aside, if anyone out there gets their ebooks on Kobo, The Ogre’s Wife: Fairy Tales for Grownups, is finally getting a Kobo release, as of October 31st. I’ll put a link up when I have one.

 

 

 

They Never Will Be Missed

In the Mikado, Ko-Ko, Lord High Executioner of the village of Titipu, had a little list of people who never would be missed. Just in case he was ever called upon to execute anyone. Apparently it wouldn’t have mattered who he would have killed. Just someone. If you’ve read the original, you know it was a terrible list. What wasn’t racist or misogynist was misguided and, worse, unfunny. Not that it mattered, since—spoiler alert—he never did execute anyone.

George Carlin also had a list of people who ought to be killed. As far as I know he didn’t kill anyone either. In my youth, when both hormones and passions ran higher, I also kept mental lists of people who, in my sole opinion, really should have done the world a favor, stepped in front of a speeding truck, and thank you for your cooperation. I never killed any of them, which is likely the only thing I have in common with a real comedian and a fictional executioner. And, since I’m not Lord High Executioner of anything, that’s probably for the best, but hey, one can dream.

Which brings me to lists. Almost everyone keeps lists. There are grocery lists, bucket lists, playlists, set lists, Things to Do lists, guest lists, and the list go on and on. So much so that it has devolved into a peculiar form of essay slash article slash advertisement: the listicle.

You see them everywhere from clickbait on FB to actual ebooks on Amazon. Ebooks, I should point out, which people actually buy. Fifteen Ways Kale Can Kill You. The Eight Best Planets to Visit. Seven Creative Approaches to Slicing Onions. The Top Five Ways of Dying While Taking a Selfie.

You get the idea.

Listicles don’t think you do get the idea. Everything on the list has to be explained, justified, expounded upon, which makes it a listicle and not just a simple, actually useful, functional list. Imagine a grocery list. It’s easy (if  you thought I was going there, wrong. Copyright violation).

  • Eggs
  • Bacon
  • Milk
  • Dryer Sheets

Now imagine someone going through every one of those items explaining why it’s there, the deeper meaning of what it means to buy eggs. The virtues of bacon, the advantages of milk for anyone over the age of five. What is the actual purpose of dryer sheets. Are you not enlightened?

All based on the humble list. The difference is that a simple list is actually useful. You make a list so you won’t forget who to invite to the party. Do you go down the list writing an explanation of why they’re on the list? It’s enough to know that they are. Besides, you already know why. Explanations would be for the people who aren’t on the list, but odds are they’d know too. I’m looking at you, Francine.

So what are listicles actually for? For taking monetary advantage of our natural curiosity. And selling books. In general, I’m all for selling books. But there are limits.

I’m going to make another, very short list.

They never will be missed.

 

 

Roots

When I was a kid I developed an interest in family history, mostly because I didn’t know much of it. The reason is no one was recording it. Older relatives would talk about this or that Great Uncle, or who was my cousin three times removed (not removed enough, in many cases). Then they passed and whatever they knew was gone with them. So I started a family history.

Did not get very far.

Then came the internet, and new sources of information and tools to build family trees. So in my copious free time I got into that, with some surprising results. Mainly because what I found out didn’t always match family tradition or my own weak efforts. First of all, my original research convinced me the paternal line first arrived in the new world in the mid-1700’s. Nope. Turned out to be about a hundred years earlier. My paternal grandfather thought we were from Wales. Nope again. England, specifically Essex. Both sides of the family even, except for my father’s mother’s side. Scotland. And from my mother’s mother’s side, Germany.  Though in my paternal grandfather’s defense he did say we came west from North Carolina, which was true, though the family lived for several generations in Virginia first.

Fascinating? No, not even a little. Naturally it interests me to find I had knights, earls, lairds, a baron, a viscount and one king in the tree. But I wouldn’t expect anyone else to give a darn. So why am I telling you all this? Because of a picture I remember from my childhood. It’s of my grandmother as a child, taken sometime in the 1930’s at a farmhouse with her extended family. Dirt poor Mississippi farmers near the end of the Great Depression. Her ninth great-grandfather was a frickin’ baron.

Sure, I have an academic interest in where I came from. (and it was great fun to learn that my 15th great-grandfather was a laird who got kicked out of Scotland for robbing a church). Idle curiosity satisfied. But in the immortal words of Lucy Van Pelt (via Charles Schulz) “Now that I know that, what do I do?”  The answer, of course, is “nothing.”

Doesn’t change a darn thing. I’m grateful to all my ancestors for getting me here, if unintentionally, but that’s all they’re responsible for. Anything else, it’s on me.