Monday, July 27, 2009

Prose and Confluence

Just got back from Confluence this morning, don't know why I'm awake now. The trip home was a nightmare. It started out well, but then we ran into yet more PA highway construction, not that anything was happening, just that the roads had been closed off into single-lane highways for large stretches, and there was so much traffic on them that we lost an hour just sitting and waiting for the trucks to move. This was when we had left at 3:30 PM from Pittsburgh, and we live on LI, NY. It's already an 8-hour trip. By the time we got to NJ I was so sick of PA (which is an otherwise beautiful state, but not when it's dark and you can't see anything) that I had to go looking for a gas station first thing. It hadn't occurred to me that they would close, or that early, but I did find one and fed my car. Then there was the rain. Apparently a thunderstorm had gone through the state, so not only was the traffic slowed by rain, when we got to the George Washington bridge there was an hour-long backup at the toll plaza, which I think was due to a failure of their EZ-Pass system by lightning or something. Not sure. But we finally got into NY and only got held up a little at the toll plaza for the next bridge to LI. And I got no flat tires or anything. In the rain. Hooray!

Sunday morning I wanted to try to do a little writing on my current WIP, and found that the copy on my flash drive was missing two pages. Fortunately the latest version had saved to my home computer, so I'm able to continue with it, but that didn't help me then.

Now for the good news: Confluence is a great little convention filled with some really nice people who love books! Many of the books I sold were to people who bought books from me last year and were coming back for sequels and new stuff. Echelon Press has a new line for fantasy and scifi books so hopefully I'll have more in that line next time. This year I had several new young adult titles but nothing in the adult lines, in SF/F/H. We had the Missing! anthology, though, and I sold one of those as well. They love to read there, and it doesn't have to be SF/F. I'm tempted to get a second table next time and spread out every book I have. Right now I have a bookshelf for the straight stuff, which makes the books harder to find. I also picked up a stack of the new Triangulations: Dark Glass anthology. I sold 8 at the event, along with several copies of last year's anthology, which has a story by me in it.

It also turned out the guy next to me had a small press and an interest in werewolves, and he said I could send him some chapters of St. Martin's Moon to see if he'd be interested in publishing it. Several people understodd the concept of a catalyst novel once I explained my book to them (Amy Treadwell even came up with the term 'catalyst character' independently), but none had any ideas for how to create a new format to describe one.
The assistant manager at the Bob Evan's restaurant across the street was also a scriptwriter and expressed an interest in adapting my short story Chasing His Own Tale. I've had lots of people say that, though. Maybe this time it'll actually happen.

All in all, a most worthy an excellent adventure. Now I'm going back to bed.

Monday, July 13, 2009

in the grip

A story's got me!

My publisher is (eventually) (someday) going to re-release my first ever short story, Chasing His Own Tale, as a stand-alone. It was originally requested as part of an anthology of wierd, strange, unusual scifi and fantasy stories, which was called Wyrd Wravings. The anthology is long gone, but the stories live on. In particular, my story, a classic English farce done in my own, distinctly left-of-center style. It cried out for a sequel.

Now, some years later, that sequel is crying back. Chasing His Own Tale 2: The Inevitable Sequel is on the march! As wierd as, if not wierder than, the original.

I've got almost 5K words already, and the story is perhaps half done. The original story was a little over 6K words. By the time I complete the actual storyline and fill in little things like setting and action, this one could be twice that. Or more. My stories always grow as I tell them.
Why now? I'm glad I asked that, on your behalf. The original story, which I will call CHOT, was based on a problem I had at the time, namely, a short story that I just couldn't get started. I ended up making that inability the starting point of the CHOT story. I have recently managed to write the story I couldn't write before, as part of my latest Tarkas book, Tales of Uncle.

CHOT2 is shaping up to be about, not a story I haven't yet written, but a story I've already written, St. Martin's Moon. Believe me, if I didn't tell you this, you probably wouldn't recognize it. I've been trying to synopsize that sucker for ages now, so it's only natural I guess, that it would work its way into this realm as well. At least it's more fun for me.

I'm actually thinking of doing this as a regular thing, do a CHOT version of some other story. If the story will let me, that is.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

the letter or the spirit

I just had an interesting thought, thanks to a discussion on the GoodReads site. They were discussing The Left Hand of Darkness, and someone posted excerpts as examples of her writing style and flowing prose. But it made me think how closed off it seemed to be, that the ideas being put forth there were not being discussed, merely presented as fact. (It's a common problem in SF, where whole books are written to give the author a chance to present their worldview as fact.) The prose was lyrical, but lyrical language seems to me to be a very certain language, the ideas behind it are very settled and resistant to change.

It occured to me that perhaps this is what I dislike about descriptive prose in general, that it is a presentation of the world as a given, incapable of change. It's as if the words are chains used to bind the thought, to take the unsettled and make it settled. I don't get the feeling that the writer cares as much about the thing as about the words.

My own writing style developed out of a desire to not write what I don't read, namely, descriptive prose. There is description, but it's really perception, the world as it appears to the viewer. As the perceiver changes, so does the perceived world. I especially enjoy Patricia McKillip's RiddleMaster of Hed series, for example, also with very lyrical prose, but in her case the world presented is capable of change, that the shapes of the things we see are just that, shapes, and the same thing may have a different shape tomorrow. Or I may. The whole story is about definition, self or otherwise, but not about stasis. Nina Kiriki Hoffman's excellent The Thread That Binds the Bones is another of this sort.

Friday, July 03, 2009

new story underway

I finally decided to get my sequel in gear. I wrote a funny short story some years ago at the request of my then-editor for a story for a humorous anthology of SF and Fantasy stories. I surprised myself by doing it, since I hadn't done humor or short stories at that time. I puzzled about it for a week, and then I had an idea. Like John Lennon before me, mutatis mutandis, I had an idea for a story about a man trying to write a story and getting nowhere. I got the idea from my own experience trying to write a story I had in mind about my hero, Tarkas, and how he accidentally created dragons. One day at work I had a whole bunch of ideas and wrote them all down, then started putting them into the computer that night. I think I had the story done in about a week. "Chasing His Own Tale" was published in the Wyrd Wravings anthology, short-lived and almost unknown.

Echelon Press will be bringing that story back soon, in independent e-book format, along with some others I've done in the meanwhile. This has put me in mind to create the next story in the sequence, foreshadowed in the story itself, which I'm calling "Chasing His Own Tale 2: The Inevitable Sequel". Hopefully people will get the joke.

My style is to change my style with every book/story. "If you've seen it done before, don't do it again" has been my motto since book one. Now I'm trying to deliberately recreate my own story. Not entirely, of course. Some returning characters, some new ones, recurring scenes and familiar themes (well, familiar to me, at least)--it's very strange. I have some ideas for further stories, too, a whole sequence that may be compilable into a single novel-length whole, but comedy is a hard subject to write so it may take me a while to get there.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The joy of spending money

Especially when you don't have it.

We noticed that our roof was leaking yet again around the skylights, and we found a roofer who appears to be rather more reputable than others we found. It turns out the previous losers who'd worked on it had done a number of things wrong. FYI, skylights are only supposed to have one layer of shingles near them! They are not supposed to have nails driven through the gutters! The skylights were installed by some non-professional who not only managed to put in the screens upside-down, they drilled screws through the sidewalls (don't ask me why)! So our poor roofer gives us an estimate for a minor repair that turns into a major repair when he finds that most of the wood supporting one skylight has rotted extensively and he has to do some carpentry. Oh, and let's not forget all the rain we've been getting, so he peeled off the shingles one day and had to wait three days to actually finish the job.

Tonight we just got back from spending more money at P.C. Richards. Our refrigerator has been raining inside for a while so we decided not to wait until the height of summer to replace it. But, to add to our joy, we just found that the unit we wanted and bought is too high, so we either have to change the order to an inferior model or trim the cabinet to gain an extra inch!

Eventually I have to get work done on my car...

On the other hand, I got some words down in one of my current stories. Yay, me. I have a short story that will be coming out--eventually--and I'm working on a sequel, called 'The Inevitable Sequel'. You may have guessed, it's a comedy. At least it's supposed to be. My editor thinks it's funny anyway. I must have 5 stories in various stages of completion, one of them has to get some progress.