Wednesday, August 19, 2015

I'm in Spokane

for this year's Worldcon! If you're also here for Sasquan, maybe we'll see each other? Here are some places I know I'll be this week:


3:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Volunteering at SFWA Table

I'll be in the Dealer's Room (Hall A of Riverside Exhibition Hall; SFWA is tables E16 & E17, on a corner beside LOCUS). Come say hello!


7:00 PM - 11:00 PM
Drinks with Authors

General socializing, shenanigans, and a book raffle at Black Label Brewing Company. No need to commit to the whole time frame, pop by if you can and say hi! Sasquan membership not required! See the Reddit thread for more info.


12:00 noon - 2:00 PM
Lakeside: A Year With Jay Lake - PG-13

My friend Donnie Reynolds made this documentary, and he'll be hosting this screening and doing a Q&A afterward. About the film: "Campbell Award-winning writer Jay Lake died in 2014 after a very public, six year struggle with cancer. Lakeside is a documentary about Jay and his cancer battle."


8:00 PM - 10:30 PM
Hugo Awards Ceremony

Whatever happens, it's going to be an interesting night. (See George R.R. Martin's LiveJournal commentary if you're not up to speed on this year's kerfuffle.)

I'm also looking forward to the Viable Paradise and Clarion West room parties, on Thursday and Friday respectively, and actually meeting my literary agent in person! Follow me on Twitter for the latest updates, including a possible Codexian karaoke outing at some point.

ADDITIONAL: I have a mailing list now! Feel free to sign up for approximately twice-monthly updates about my various creative endeavors. Also cat pictures. (This blog will continue to be a catch-all for random stuff and updates of a more personal nature.)


Saturday, August 08, 2015


So the British Library has over one million public domain illustrations on Flickr, organized into albums for easier browsing. I've only made it through six pages of the "Fauna" collection so far but have already found some real gems:

Image taken from page 570 of 'Travels in Africa during the years 1875-1878 (1879-1883-1882-1886) ... Translated from the German by A. H. Keane ... Illustrated'
An otter eating a fish.

Image taken from page 607 of 'Travels and adventures in Southern Africa ... comprising a view of the present state of the Cape Colony, with observations on the progress and prospects of British emigrants. Second edition'
Possibly an aardvark?

Image taken from page 241 of 'De Sanskulotten in Vlaanderen, of De Heldenstrijd der Boeren in 1798'
Side-eye dog.

Image taken from page 233 of 'Aileen Aroon: a memoir [of a dog]. With other tales of faithful friends and favourites, sketched from the life'
Devious cat.

Image taken from page 59 of 'The Child's Book of Poetry. A selection of poems, ballads and hymns'
Demanding kittens.

Anyway, lots of images, free to use, no copyright restrictions. Enjoy!


Wednesday, August 05, 2015

I Am One Year Older Than I Was

On August 2, 2014, my wife DeeAnn drove me home from Seattle, where I'd just finished the Clarion West Summer Six-Week Workshop.

The week before the workshop started, we were in California for our nephew Jared's wedding. DeeAnn drove me to the Sacramento airport while we listened to the audiobook of Neil Gaiman's novelette "The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains." We hadn't reached the end of the story when I got to the airport, but I had enough time to download the text version before boarding, and finished reading it on the plane.

It's not exactly what you'd call a romantic story, but it helped me feel connected to my wife as I was leaving. (I did see her a few times, online and in person, during the workshop, but this was going to be the longest time we'd lived apart since 2000. It all turned out fine in the end. Well, not for the guy in that story. Never mind. Moving on.)

After I landed in Seattle, erstwhile volunteer Caren Gussoff drove me from the airport to the sorority house where I'd be living for the next six weeks. She was only the first of many fantastic humans I'd meet and get to know during that time.

Having attended Viable Paradise in 2008, I knew generally what to expect from Clarion, but I could not have imagined the precise dimensions of what my experience would be: as wide and deep as any ocean, and similarly teeming with strange and wondrous life.

I cried a lot in Week One (ahead of schedule, I know). Jim Kelly said he'd blurb my first novel. In Week Two I saw Snowpiercer and witnessed Kij Johnson reading "Spar" aloud and literally sparring with students. (As in wrestling. Bourbon may have been involved.) Ian McDonald guided us through improv exercises in Week Three, our regular movie nights began turning into a Kurt Russell film festival, and I received an offer of representation from Sam Morgan, who is now my literary agent. (For the record: I spent fifteen days researching JABberwocky before signing the retainer.)

I may have made Hiromi Goto's Week Four classes more difficult than necessary, but I'm glad our whole group could talk about how magical Negroes and hysterical women are Bad Tropes. (And then we watched Steven Universe!) Week Five with Charlie Jane Anders was a whirlwind of karaoke, half-price sushi, and poetry. Week Six ended with Ted Chiang, illegal beach bonfires, and John Crowley telling dirty jokes (not all at the same time).

And, oh yeah, I wrote some stories too.

"Paradise Lost" will almost certainly never see the light of day. I'm retooling "Space Race" right now. "It's Complicated" doesn't really hold together, but I'll probably strip-mine it for thematic material later. "My Labour and My Leisure Too" was a weird experiment. "Destination: Murder!" probably needs to be longer. And "Moonrise" is too big for me to contemplate at this very moment, but it's a novel I need to write someday.

Meanwhile, I've sold two other novels and two three other short stories since coming home last August. The first novel, Waypoint Kangaroo, will be published by Thomas Dunne Books next summer. My story "Laddie Come Home" is in the 2016 Young Explorer's Adventure Guide, due out early next year. And "Ten Days Up" is in the Baen anthology Mission: Tomorrow, now available for pre-order. ADD_2015-08-07: How could I forget "It's Machine Code" in The Journal of Unlikely Cryptography?

As the kids say: What is even my life anymore?

This isn't everything I could tell about my six weeks at Clarion West. It wasn't just a boot camp for writers, and though I'd certainly call it "life-changing," that term doesn't fully encompass what I got out of CW.

I was changed--for good, even--but more than that, it inspired me to actively work at changing my life, and myself. Those six weeks showed me what I was doing right and how I need to improve, and introduced me to some amazing people who will be lifelong friends. I am incredibly grateful for all of it.

This wasn't the end of my journey. It was just the beginning.

And I'm not stopping for a long time.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I Am Not Any of These Other People

I recently finished listening to Judy Greer's audiobook of her memoir I Don't Know What You Know Me From (which is delightful, by the way: my favorite chapter is "My Stupid Trip (Alone) to Spain" but they're all great).

Now, I'm nowhere near as well-known as Judy Greer, but I also get the "where do I know you from" thing quite a bit. I also don't know why this happens. (Remind me to tell you sometime about the first time I met Kim Stanley Robinson.)

Anyway, here is a brief list of people I have been told I look like.

1. Ted Chiang

Photo © 2014 by Folly Blaine

We are not the same person, as you can see... I'M THE ONE ON THE RIGHT OKAY.

That said, if someone mistakenly invites me onto a movie set and wants to introduce me to Amy Adams, I'm not going to say no.

2. A Native American

(That's Chief Joseph)

This according to a homeless man in San Francisco. He was perhaps not an authority on comparative phenotypic analysis.

3. The character shown on the cover of China Mountain Zhang (Tor, 1992)

Cover art by Wayne Barlowe

Okay, that's actually a fair cop. Here's a close-up from the 1997 Orb edition, which remixes the original artwork:

And here's a picture of me from this year's Readercon:

Photo by Christopher M. Cevasco

You win this round, Dan Trefethen!

Anyway. I won't be offended if you come up to me and insist that you know me from somewhere else, even if it's the first time we've ever met. Just don't turn it into a weird interminable guessing game and we'll be cool.


Wednesday, July 01, 2015

I'm writing for Clarion West

I've been pretty bad about promoting my Clarion West Write-a-thon participation this year, but I'm starting up the marketing machine now. If you're not sick of hearing about it by the time August rolls around, well, I'm doing something wrong.

In a nutshell: this is the time for you, genre fiction lover, to make a fully tax-deductible donation to support Clarion West, a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation which runs a six-week workshop every summer, often described as "boot camp for writers." I attended CW last year, and it was an amazing experience with wonderful people.

I'm donating this year to support all my classmates (listed previously). You can also sponsor me as I finish revising my novel Waypoint Kangaroo for my editor at Thomas Dunne Books, who plan to publish it next summer! And then I'm moving on to short stories, and the second Kangaroo novel (also under contract to Thomas Dunne).

Here's my page (use the "Sponsor" link to donate via PayPal):

To sweeten the pot, here are some rewards I'm offering for my supporters:
  • Donate $64 and you'll get a sneak peek at more of "Ten Days Up" (the writing sample on my Write-a-thon profile), which will be published this November in the Mission: Tomorrow anthology.
  • Donate $128 and you'll get a signed paperback copy of Thursday's Children: Flash Fiction from 512 Words or Fewer (free shipping to continental US).
  • Donate $256 and I'll share a "mix tape" of some of my favorite film scores which I use as background music when writing.
  • Donate $512 and I will put together a fiction-themed Puzzled Pint "party pack" (4 puzzles + 1 meta) for you to share with your friends!
  • Donate $1,024 and you can name a minor character in the second Kangaroo novel (subject to editorial approval).
That's all for now. Have a safe and happy Fourth of July weekend!


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

I volunteered at Open Source Bridge today

And sat in on these great talks:
...which actually represent a pretty good cross-section of my personal interests.

In related news, there's nothing like talking to a seventeen-year-old high school student who's coding his own distributed database system to make a prehistoric Perl hacker feel old. HASHTAG BASED ON A TRUE STORY.

That is all.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

I am on a black highway at night

This week, some good news: Stepto has come out of his coma and seems to be recovering well. If you're feeling charitable, you can donate to help the family with medical and travel expenses.

At times like this, I think of this dialogue from Terminator 2:

"Every day from this day on is a gift. Use it well."

If you've never heard that before, that's because it only exists in an alternate ending which was (wisely, IMHO) excised from both the theatrical and special-edition releases. It's totally the wrong note after what's come before, but the sentiment is solid. See for yourself:

We don't choose when we're born. Most of us won't get to choose when or how we die. All we get to decide is how to use the precious little time we have in the world. And being able to experience this weird, wonderful planet at all means you've already won the lottery.

Every day of my life is a gift. And I'm doing my best to use each day well.

Speaking of being charitable, this year's Clarion West Write-a-thon starts on Sunday. I'm participating, as are several of my CW2014 classmates. You can support any or all of us by following the links below:

If I've failed to include anyone in the list above, please let me know! Here's the complete list of participating writers.