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.

 

Slow Going

I’ve gotten slow.

Normally it shouldn’t take more than two weeks for a novelette. Here I am at a solid week and I still haven’t finished a short story. It’s not because I don’t know how the story goes, I do. It’s not because I’m not working on it, I am. Not really sure about the because, actually, but I’ve got my suspicions.

To begin at the beginning, I’m a member of a flash fiction writer’s group. I’ve been in writer’s groups before. Back in Mississippi we had a very successful writer’s group that produced several published stories and even one Nebula nomination (not me, alas). I hesitated about joining the local group simply because it was flash fiction, which I’ve never been a fan of, but I was curious about the local scene, so I finally put my misgivings aside and very glad I did. It’s a talented bunch and flash has its own challenges. When I think of flash, I think of anything under about 1500 words. Nuh-uh. Here we have 500. Max. Some groups go even shorter.

Start with a challenge word. We write whatever we want, but it has to include the challenge word for the week. Three of those week’s words resulted in new Yamada stories. In 500 words. Still wrapping my head around that one myself. Naturally enough, for each of those I had to leave a lot out and imply a lot more…which meant I naturally wanted to expand them. The first one sold to BCS last spring. Working on the second one now and have plans for the third, but here’s the thing–I am writing very slowly. Yes, now we’re back to the subject of this digression. Which there wouldn’t be room for in flash, but there you go.

I think flash has me in the habit of drafting more carefully. Fine in a rewrite, but it tends to hamper things on a first draft. First draft should be more like careening down a hillside on a bike with no brakes. Even so, I usually end up with a 6-7 hundred word draft that has to be cut to 500. So when I do the same thing on a story that would normally run in the 3000+ word range, that doesn’t work as well. It slows you down.

Now that I’m aware of the problem, I can make a conscious effort to fix it. But of course first I had to become conscious that there was a problem. Which I should have realized when it took me six months to write a novella when I’ve finished full novels in three. Or an entire week to only get two thousand words of what I think will be a 3500 word story, once I’ve put in all the stuff I had to leave out the first time.

Wisdom is uncertain. Learning is optional, but better than not.

Doh, a Deer

Speaking of ivory towers (as I was last week)—I don’t have one. So it was no surprise that last Friday I was out mowing our back terrace. As I did so I noticed something moving on the rather steep wooded hillside that is our backdrop. You likely won’t be able to see it from this angle, but she still has her spots. Rapidly losing them, of course, almost grown-up but not quite.

We looked at each other for a moment and she suddenly decided to run over to our neighbor’s hillside. Then she was peering at me through the hedge, and then she came back. I don’t know why. Curious about what I was doing, or maybe it was the scent of all that lovely mown grass. I was able to get a couple of decent shots off my phone from the bench where I was taking a break.

Actually, we see them a lot here. Rather unlike back in MS, where it was unusual to see a deer on your daily grind because they knew better. Then a section of the new Natchez Trace got completed around Jackson and that changed. Then you saw them all the time, because they quickly figured out they were in a state park and no one was going to shoot them there. It’s pretty much the same here, so far as in town. No hunting in the city limits, and it’s not season yet anyway. So the deer come and go as they please. I know they’ve turned into pests in some neighborhoods, and last year the heirloom  tomato plant I almost but not quite got tomatoes from was eaten by the deer…after the squirrels and chipmunks had already made off with the tomatoes.

Funny thing though, I don’t really mind. They were here first, after all. We just need to learn to get along.

The novella project is almost done. That is, the first of two scenes..sections, really, is done, with one to go, only now I realize there’s one more after that. Brief, but necessary. At this rate it’ll be just shy of proper novel length, but still the most substantial thing I’ve managed since The Emperor in Shadow.

I’ve been wanting to write more short stories, but I really need to finish the Laws of Power series first. We’ll see how that goes.

Not Quite All

Fan mail is not so common that I get blasé about it. Last week I got a message from a gentleman who had read all the Yamada books, loved them, and was wondering if there would be any more. So far as the novels go, the short answer is “no.” By no, of course, I mean probably not, because I’m no better at predicting the future than anyone else, and that includes many futurists.

To my own surprise, I knew Yamada would be a series when I wrote the first ever short story (“Fox Tails)” set in his version of Heian Period Kyoto (called Heian-kyo, up until his time). Furthermore, I knew the series had a definite story arc from the time I wrote the second ever Yamada story, “Moon Viewing at Shijo Bridge.” Every story since then progressed along that arc until it was concluded in The Emperor in Shadow, the fourth book.

Now here’s where it gets complicated. Life stories, as in the story of anyone’s life, also have an arc. There’s a point where you enter the story, and inevitably, a point where you leave it. But here’s the difference—the story itself doesn’t end. It just continues with new people. Fiction isn’t like that. I thought Yamada had left the story, and that was that so far as the series was concerned. It wasn’t.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I recently wrote a new Yamada story. That was a total surprise to me. Now I think I may do a few more. He’s not quite done, and so neither am I. Together with the stories so far uncollected, I do imagine another Yamada collection is possible, but another novel? Seems like a long shot right now. I almost wish I could give a definitive yes or no, but the truth is I don’t really know, and I can’t pretend that I do.

As for the novella project (totally non-Yamada), I have two more major scenes to write after working backward to tackle some structural issues. This too could be a series. I don’t know that, either.