The Ides of March

Snow’s melting, and the Ides of March was just a few days ago. Richard Armour once claimed that was tax season in ancient Rome, but I haven’t been able to verify that yet. I do know that it’s tax season now, assuming one doesn’t want to wait until the last minute, and I certainly didn’t.

So yesterday was tax day for me, and I spent the entire afternoon, easily 4+ hours, putting it together. Since both my wife and I are self-employed, that’s a lot of receipts and a couple of Schedule Cs in addition to the normal forms. Of course, as soon as I emerge her comment is “That didn’t take long.” Felt long to me, until she reminded me, without computer assistance, it used to take a couple of days, an entire weekend,  and that was even before it got as complicated as it is. Yes, I’m old enough to remember doing taxes on paper.  Thank heaven for software and electronic filing.

A good reason to remind oneself: it could always be worse. Even if, in the country’s current situation, it’s hard to imagine how.

The Yamada story has been through First Reader and rewrite, and is currently under submission. Which is pretty much the situation with any story you’re not putting out yourself: hurry up and wait.

I should be thinking about another Yamada collection. I don’t have quite enough uncollected Yamada to do it right now, but it wouldn’t take more than a few more. I’ll find out later if I have those in me. Those currently uncollected are the later ones: “Three Little Foxes,” “The Sorrow of Rain,” “The Tiger’s Turn,” and the new one, working title “Dai-Uzumaki.”

Senior Moments

I couldn’t call it a “senior moment,” singular. It went on too long. Last week I had a lovely fan post from a long-time reader. She was a big follower of the Yamada books but here was referencing characters in a short story that was a particular favorite of hers (Yes, I’m looking at you, Yoko).

One problem—I had absolutely no memory of that story. Yes, I’ve written a lot of stories, but not so many that one (me) would think I could completely forget one, even to the point that I was starting to believe that perhaps she was mistaking me for the author of someone else’s story.

Awkward.

I miss grep. I even miss Win98, in that one regard. There was a “search inside” function built in that would allow me, as with grep, to search within every single story file in my catalogue to determine if, indeed, this one was one of mine or not. And yes, I know there’s a way to do that in Win10, but it’s a colossal pain in the butt. If this happens again, I’ll look for grepwin or something similar. But I digress.

There’s something about writing that most of you already know. Sure, everything you write comes out of you. An experience looking for meaning, an image, a train of thought you’d like to derail, whatever. At the same time, it’s a lot like channeling spirits. You’re not always sure where it comes from, even if, intellectually, you do know, and when it’s done, it’s a separate thing from you. You go on to something else, until the next time. If, in the case of a series, there is a next time.

Which is why I thought I was done with Lord Yamada, or rather he was done with me. After The Emperor in Shadow, the story arc was wrapped up and that was that. Only last night I wrote a new Lord Yamada story. Granted, it was a piece of flash, but I’m thinking of expanding it to a proper short story, at least. There’s enough “there” there. So you never know.

As for the story I couldn’t remember? Something finally clicked, and I pulled it up. “The Right God,” from RoF August 2004, reprinted in my second collection, Worshipping Small Gods.

Took me long enough.

Story Time: The Last Waltz

Today’s Story Time is “The Last Waltz,” which was the very first story I published in the late, great Realms of Fantasy magazine way back in the February, 1995 issue, and only my fifth professional (as in getting paid for) sale. I went on to sell stories to Shawna  McCarthy at Realms twenty-six more times by my count before the magazine ended, but TLW, a little dated as it may be, was a sentimental favorite of mine, even though it’s never been collected. Maybe next time.

At this point I’m also going to end Story Time as a regular weekly feature. Putting each story into display-shape for online takes time I should be spending on new material, and right now time is the one thing I don’t have much of. I’ll still do them now and again, but otherwise I hope to return to a more regular blogging schedule.

Story Time: Golden Bell, Seven, and the Marquis of Zeng

I’m late again. There are reasons, but I won’t bore you with them. I’m late, that’s all, and to somewhat atone, today’s Story Time is a novelette, “Golden Bell, Seven, and the Marquis of Zeng. It was originally published in the debut issue of Black Gate back in 2000.

The character Golden Bell, literally, came to me in a dream, and this is what she said “I have a fever of poetry that consumes me, a malady of song that wears me down.” I had no idea what that was about, so I basically wrote the story to find out. I did the hard part. If you want to know, all you have to do is read it.

Assuming I’m not late again, “Golden Bell, Seven, and the Marquis of Zeng” will stay online until next Wednesday, September 5th.

Story Time: Fox Tails

This week’s Story Time is the novelette that began the Yamada Monogatari series, “Fox Tails.” It was originally published in the June 2005 issue of Realms of Fantasy.

As I’ve said before, I originally conceived of Yamada no Goji as a sort of noir style detective in Heian Japan. Unlike some cases, I did know it was a series when I first wrote it. I don’t always know that, witness the Eli Mothersbaugh stories. What I didn’t know and couldn’t have imagined at the time was how much Yamada would evolve over the series from my original concept. Yamada had his own ideas, apparently, but I didn’t mind. Ill behaved characters are usually the best.