Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I'm Up On The Clarion Website

It's official. They've got my smiling mug there on their website. I'm a Clarion Instructor!


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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Anybody Going To Brazil Sometime Soon?

If so, could you do me a favor? I'd love to get a copy of the Portuguese version of Walk Through Darkness (Jornada na Escuridão). I never got sent my author copy, and now I'm not confident I'll ever get one. It's been quite a few years, you see. It is out there, but not in my collection!

It's right here at the Brazilian Walmart, but I can't seem to actually order the dang thing.

If you happen to be in Brazil, or going on holiday, drop me a line. Let's talk.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Questions For Writers #1

A while back a student emailed me a bunch of questions about writing. I answered them. My answers weren't great or anything, but I did take a bit of time to put my thoughts into words. I emailed back... and I don't recall if I ever heard back from the student.

Perhaps my answers weren't what he was looking for. (I have to admit, a lot of them do have an "I dunno, you just have to figure it out" sort of vibe.) Having put time into them, though, I'd like to offer them up again! One at a time. Occasionally. That sort of thing.

Okay, first, a question:

How much research do you need to do for a project (short story vs. novel, say)? Do you absorb a lot upfront and dive into more as needed along the way, or do you only search out the bits you need as they arise? Or something else? How do you know where to start in terms of finding sources/information?

And my answer:

Since I’m mostly writing novels I always want to know enough about my subject matter to know that there’s a novel in it - and that the time period/setting is an integral part of what’s going to make it interesting. But I don’t try to know everything. I do the bulk of the research as I write, as I discover blank spots in my knowledge and have to find the details to fill them in.

I certainly do search out the bits I need as they arrive, but I also try to have a variety of other indirect research sources: nonfiction books on related issues/time period/cultures/science/history, novels written about (or during) the time of my story, novels that may be about entirely different subject matter… Reading a great Vietnam War novel may be very informative to how I write about ancient warfare, etc. I’d also suggest that when reading secondary historical works you check the footnotes. If the book gives you an interesting bit of information find out where they got it; go there for more; follow leads.

Bottom line is that research is trial and error. I don’t think there’s one magical way to do it.

My current thoughts on this answer?

Well, yeah, that's pretty much what I think about that. Writing is blundering with intent. Just do that. Blunder like you mean it. Good things may come of it.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Mary Robinette Kowal on Omnivoracious

Mary answers...

If your novel were a meal, what would it be?

...and a couple of other pressing questions at Omnivoracious.


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Above and Below

I'm thrilled to be able to announce a very cool project I'm going to be a part of.

You know Ann and Jeff VanderMeer? Supercool, award-winning editors of many marvelous books (like The New Weird, Steampunk, Fast Ships Black Sails, and The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases)? Well, you should know them!

They're putting together a new anthology of short fiction called Above and Below, and they've asked me to be part of it. Very kind of them. Here's the description:

ABOVE AND BELOW: FLOATING WORLDS & SUNKEN CITIES, edited by Ann & Jeff VanderMeer - Whether it’s myths of kingdoms in the sky or of strange subterranean realms, exotic and fantastical places have captured readers imaginations for centuries. From Jules Verne and Edgar Allen Poe to modern times, that which waits above or below has enticed readers with its promise of mystery, adventure, dark beauty, horror, and fantasy. Join some of today’s top writers as they take you to the heights, and down into the depths.

Love the theme. Have a story that will fit it, I think. It'll be quite a bit different than anything I've published yet. Let's hope it comes together...

Who else is going to be in it? The contributors aren't completely finalized yet, but those on board so far include: Alan Campbell, Jay Lake, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Cherie Priest, N.K. Jemisin, Alastair Reynolds, Joe R. Lansdale, and Steven Erickson.


That's about all I can say about it at this point. I'll let you know more about the publisher and dates etc when I can.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

HG Wells Contest - No Sci-Fi Allowed

This isn't new or anything. It's a story from this summer that I just recently noticed. It's pretty funny, in a sad sort of way.

Check it out HERE: HG Wells Contest.



Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mind Meld

Over at SF Signal, I've melded my mind with a gaggle of other authors on the topic of the "best" female characters in sf/f. I didn't actually go for choosing a best, but went for more of a personal approach.

I began like this: "I think what makes a character great for each of us has a lot to do with timing. Characters strike us not just because of who they are, but because it's the right moment for us to encounter them. For me, meeting Tenar from Ursula K LeGuin's The Tombs of Atuan was one such encounter..."

Check it out: HERE.



Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Who Knew Acorn Squash Could Be So Lovely?

That’s what I was left wondering last night.

Okay, so, background first… My family belongs to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) called Natural Roots. Basically, it’s a big farm in rural MA that we all pay into in the spring. Then as of the summer we can stop in once a week to pick up our share of vegetables, all grown right there on the farm, all organic, all produced using human and horse power. (No tractors.) It’s good fun. Bit of a hippy vibe, as you can imagine.

One of the treats of it is that what’s available each week varies based on what’s naturally ready to harvest. No two weeks are ever exactly the same, and sometimes you get an abundance of something that you’re not sure what to do with. This happened this week.

Acorn squash. They had a bunch of them in a crate, with a sign below saying to take as many as you like. I didn’t have much of an idea what I’d do with them, but I’m not one to turn down free stuff. So I grabbed an armful.

Got home, unloaded my haul, and began to wonder just what I’d do with the acorn squash. A couple days later, Gudrun proposed Acorn Squash Quesadilla’s from the Smitten Kitchen. I shrugged. Alright. I’ll give it a go. None too enthusiastic, but I didn’t have any better ideas.

The outcome? They were awesome. Absolutely delicious. I don’t know how to explain how/why. It’s partly that it looks like a quesadilla but in with the cheesy fried goodness is a sort of sweet, almost nutty, creamy texture that’s a surprise with each mouthful. I was thoroughly surprised, and very pleased. Enough so that I had to share.

The recipe can be found HERE: Smitten Kitchen, along with awesome photos that look just like my version. ;)

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Write Angles Conference 2010

I'm happy to say that I'll be on a panel at this year's Write Angles Conference at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA. It takes place on October 23rd and includes a wonderful line-up of writers from many genres. Andre Dubus III and Magdalena Gómez are headlining, but it also includes panels with YA authors, Non-fiction writers, poets and all sorts - like the hard to define but very cool Jedediah Berry.

My panel is called "Inspiration Throughout the Writing Process". The folks I'm up there with are:

Set in a dictionary company, Emily Arsenault’s first novel THE BROKEN TEAGLASS was a New York Times Notable Crime Book of 2009. Her second novel, about two young girls on a paranormal investigation, will be released by HarperCollins in 2011. She lives in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts.

Jo Knowles is the author of the young adult novels: LESSONS FROM A DEAD GIRL, JUMPING OFF SWINGS, and PEARL (coming 2011). She teaches writing for children in the MFA program at Simmons College. Jo lives in Vermont with her husband and son. To learn more about Jo, visit her blog.

Annie Parker (Moderator) has worked as a carpenter, waitress, ship’s cook and most often, and most vilely, as a secretary. Her adventures have included volunteering in Ecuador, studying in Korea, and motherhood. She recently graduated from Smith College with honors and is currently pursuing an MFA in Writing for Children through Simmons College. She blogs with humor at The Sunday Hiker.

Frederick Reiken is the author of three novels, most recently DAY FOR NIGHT, published in May of this year (Little, Brown). Reiken’s debut novel THE ODD SEA won the Hackney Literary Award, and his follow-up THE LOST LEGENDS OF NEW JERSEY was a national bestseller. His short stories have appeared in publications including The New Yorker. He currently directs the graduate writing program at Emerson College.

So, let me get this straight. That's one panel but on it are 1) a mystery writer, 2) a historical/fantasy novelist, 3) a YA author, and 4) literary novelist. Nice. I love it when program organizers can think out of the box.

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Sunday, September 05, 2010

Hugos 2010

Have just been handed out at Aussiecon4 in Melbourne, Australia. Wish I could have been there, but instead I'm painting the outside of my house. So it goes.

Looks like my Campbell Tiara has been passed on to Seanan McGuire. Congrats.

The winners can be seen HERE: The Hugo Awards. Congrats to all!

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I won't offer my opinion on Mr. Franzen. Who would care anyway? But I do offer this link to a Slate article on the criticism of the NY Times male slant.

Am I surprised? Not in the slightest. One could easily extend the criticism to lots of other categories, though. For example, what do their percentages look like on reviews by authors of color? What about male vs female people of color?

Personally, The Times has actually been quite good to me. When I was a literary historical novelist they gushed. When I became a somewhat more commercial historical novelist they were still pretty good to me. When I became a fantasy novelist...

Okay, well at that point I ceased to exist for them. But three out of five ain't bad. Fortunately, it was offset by all the other readers for whom I sudden popped into existence. Always trade offs...

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Friday, September 03, 2010

Shades of Milk and Honey

I was thrilled to get an audio copy of Mary Robinette Kowal's new novel, Shades of Milk and Honey. (Thank you, Mary!) I listened to it with keen interest, not least because Mary narrates it herself. Could she really pull off hours of English accents? Apparently so. I'm no connoisseur of English accents (Scottish are more my thing), but I think she did a great job.

So what's it about? Booklist describes it wonderfully:

Take Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and add a dash of magic and you have this delightful story by Mary Kowal. This is the story of two sisters, Jane, who is more magically talented, and Melody, a stunning beauty, and their quest to find love and stability. Both girls hope to marry well despite their lack of inheritance, and are pursued by various suitors. They are quickly embroiled into the intricacies of their neighbors’ lives, and the resulting series of events is sure to entrance the reader. For those who love reading Jane Austen’s books, this will at least temporarily satisfy the craving. A touch of magic inserted into the story is enough to enhance, but not overwhelm the story line. A quick, light read, with characters that the reader will feel right at home with.

That about sums it up. I found it particularly interesting how lightly the magic is used. It's a feature in young lady's education, much like art or music or needlepoint would be. It's just there. It can be startling beautiful, but so can a good painting or a well-played bit tune on the piano. Don't expect magical battles and epic journeys in this one. It's not that type of book. It's own type of book. Quiet, personal, Jane Austenish...

Cory Doctorow has gushed about it over at boingboing.

Here's a great review at Adventures in Reading.

And here's one from PowellsBooks.Blog.

Just to give you a random selection of adoration...

Well done, Mary. What's next?

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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The Other Lands, Version Wee (Small)

The Other Lands is out in bookstores in the US as of yesterday!

I hope very much that it’s in a store near you. Go check for me. If it’s not, ask somebody in the store what they’re thinking! If it is… well, consider buying one. For a friend if not for yourself. Spread the word? Why not? They’re cheap at $7.99. They won’t exactly fit in a trouser pocket, but you could slip one in a coat pocket. And fall is coming - despite the 90 degree temperatures here in Massachusetts the last week. Anyway…

Oh, and I’m very pleased to remind Kindle readers that the ebook version is now $7.19. Yay! Discounted as it should be for you all. I hope that any folks that put off buying it at the higher price point will give it a shot now.

For my part… well, things are low key. I’m not heading off on book tour or any such thing. I’m up in the woods, walking the puppy, settling my kids into the new school year (we’ve homeschooled for several years, but they’re going to local elementary school this year, very exciting for all involved), and seriously buckling down on Acacia 3. (This is made easier because the kids are in school, actually.) I still have a lot to do, but the end is in sight. I’m going to finish this thing in the next few months, get it to Doubleday, and then hopefully we’ll stay on schedule for a late 2011 publication.

If you’re reading the series thank you for your patience.

If you’re not, we’ll how about starting?

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