Beginning at the Beginning

There’s a point in any project when imagining and considering and mulling has to end. Some people plot everything out. I don’t because I can’t. The only way I know what the story is, is if I write it. Nothing else. Yet even for the people who know what all happens ahead of time, there’s the point where you put the plotting aside and just dive in. After all, “plotted” isn’t “written.”

In short, time to stare down the blank page.

We’ve all been there. Again and again and again. If it gets any easier, I don’t know about it. Yes, I’ve started a new project. No, I can’t talk about it yet, because there’s almost nothing to talk about. Granted, there will likely come a time when I won’t shut up about it, but that time is not yet. I’m past the first blank page, but only just. There are a lot more blank pages to come.

Writers hate being asked where they get their ideas. I know, because almost every writer I know has fussed about it at one time or another. It’s even possible that, in a  weak moment, I have fussed about it. Pure peer pressure. The truth is no one has ever asked me where I get my ideas. I have, however, been asked more difficult questions.

For instance, at our last writer’s group, a newcomer asked me “How do you write?”

I think I just stared at him for a moment or two, like I didn’t understand the question. Oddly enough, I didn’t understand the question. Still don’t. The guy had come into the group with a beautiful piece of work, so I turned the question around: “How do you write?” He didn’t have an answer either, so that exchange probably accomplished nothing.

I probably write like anyone else does. You put down an opening sentence. You think it’s stupid, erase it and do another one. Finally  you get one that doesn’t strike you as inane. Then you write the second. Is it inane? Does it have anything to do with the first? Rinse and repeat. Eventually  you have a story. Or a poem, essay, novel, or…well, something. I have no idea how it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Oh, but when it does…

There’s nothing in the world quite like it.

Response to Little Fire & Fog has been very gratifying. Makes me want to do more with those characters. Not yet, though. Because of the new thing.

More Yamada

I just found out maybe five minutes ago that the second Yamada story (as in the new ones post events in The Emperor in Shadow) sold to Beneath Ceaseless Skies. There’s still the slight matter of line edits and a minor revision or two. I don’t mind. I like doing revisions. Gives me a chance to make something good even better. I’m weird that way. The working title is “A Minor Exorcism” (spoiler: It ain’t minor).

The first of the new ones, “Uzumaki of the Lake,” is scheduled for issue #300, which should be out in late March 2020.

I like where I live, but being a southerner in NY state has taken some adjustments. For instance, I think I’ve probably had to shift a couple of metric tonnes of snow since I’ve been here. It’s rather like the wag’s definition of a weed: “A flower daring to place itself somewhere you don’t want it.” Snow does that too, for all that it’s pretty. And the season is rapidly approaching. I’m thinking I need backup.

I broke down and bought a snow blower.

As in gas-powered, electric start, self-propelled, metal chute, the works. I tried a battery-powered model first. It was useful, but ultimately unequal to the task. Rather like me. Together with the beast being delivered on Friday, maybe that will change.

 

 

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.

 

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.