“Antidote” started out as an awkward 6,000 word story. It was too long for most publications, but rejected by markets like GigaNotoSaurus. Then the editor at Metaphorosis reached out with the idea of lengthening the overall story and breaking it into three mini arcs that all worked together. And was I interested in doing a podcast?
Six revisions later, “Antidote” came in just under 11K words. My daughter, studying at Bath Spa University at the time, introduced me to a fellow theatre major, Thomas Baxter. Thomas brought a welcome British gravitas to the production. Extra kudos to him for rising to the challenge of Scandinavian terms and proper names.
For those of you following my employment interregnum, the saga takes a new turn next week. Pending final paperwork, I’ll be jumping into a short-term contract at a large utility company. Technical writing! Documentation! Manuals! This should be a regular 40-hour gig (as opposed to the piecemeal stuff I’ve been doing since April).
May marks five (5) months of active searching and interviews. In fact, I had an interview the afternoon I returned from the Nebula Awards conference. (See teaser photo above.) While that role didn’t materialize, I received a firm (and better) offer from another company. Huzzah!
I’ll admit it’s been a while since I’ve taken on a serious project. Let’s just say that my last quarter at Previous Gig were not the most intellectually challenging. They didn’t really grok my skill set (and were struggling with their own internal processes, but that’s a much longer story).
The conference, BTW, was the first in-person SFWA event I’ve attended since the Before Times. It was held in Southern California, right across the Disneyland. Talk about cognitive dissonance. Attendance was about half as many (physical) attendees, although there the usual plethora of excellent panels. Perhaps I can watch the recordings for those I missed. As always, the time went by too quickly and just saying hi to folks proved to be a challenge.
The event did give me a chance to spend time with an old friend and give him a signed copy of The Science Fiction Tarot. I’m particularly pleased with my contribution, “The Schadenfreuders,” and will be joining other authors this weekend to read selections from the anthology. If you decide to buy a paper copy, ping me and I’ll send you a signed book plate.
Writing continues. Naps may have to be curtailed for a while. The cats will not be happy.
I received my galley proofs this week for The Science Fiction Tarot: Luminous Symbols of All the Tomorrows to Come, which features my story about aliens with strange eating habits, “The Schedenfreuders.” This will be my fourth appearance (!) in a Kickstarter project associated with TDotSpec and the lovely folks at the Toronto Science Fiction Fantasy Writing Group. (Previously, my short fiction appeared in Strange Economics, Strange Wars, and Strange Religion.)
Who are Schadenfreuders? Why, just your average Little Green Men who relish the experience of human suffering like a hipster relishes kombucha and cold brew coffee. And they’re willing to pay a fair price for it. Well, a reasonable price. Talk to their lawyer.
Here’s a sneak peak. I think it’s the one who calls himself Pol Pot. Or it might be Eva Perón. It’s hard to tell with aliens.
Available for pre-order now, and generally out in the world on April 30. Get some fun fiction for your eyeballs!
Posted onMarch 4, 2023|Comments Off on Catching up after a week of SNAFUs
There is a great irony in being Between Gigs. You have no money but lots of time. Then Tasks and Urgent Matters dance on stage, blowing trumpets and hauling your ass out of bed. You need to look for work and you want to write. Then, hey, the physical objects in your previously employed and relatively comfortable life begin cracking, groaning, and downright breaking.
Some of it was inevitable: an 12-year-old iMac that couldn’t support recent software updates and therefore, could not run critical web-based software; an electric kettle (3 years) with a worn power switch; a printer (5 years) with an intermittent power glitch; a router (8 years) that kept losing Wi-Fi connections; and another iMac (5 years, but upgraded) with a bad microphone and a hairline crack in the display. Plus, the Pocket Panther was behind on his regular vaccinations because the reminder notices were caught in the Spam filter.
We are replacing things (thank Buddha for emergency savings), the cat is healthy, and the lovely folks at the state Employment Development Department (i.e., Unemployment) have released some overdue benefits after I convinced them that I was not, in fact, part of an organized crime heist to plunder California.
I have been writing. And submitting. Which means more rejections. And a few sales! In fact I was able to add a new square to my Writer Bingo: 2 sales in one day. Both were flash stories and you can find them at Stupefying Storieshere and here.
There are two lengthy Revise & Resubmit projects underway, and I’ve completed final edits on my contribution to Kickstarter project: The Science Fiction Tarot. I’m very excited for this project, first because it’s a cool concept and second, the preliminary was, well, very cool.
I continue to work with Cat Rambo, whose insights and gentle ass-kicking keeps me on deadline. I’m also trying to beef up my reading of contemporary fiction (so much good stuff!) and re-visit some old friends. Kurt Vonnegut’s prose still delights. Ursula Le Guin is a master. Daniel Keys Moran reminds me that very good books are too often derailed by publishing travails and general life challenges. And so it goes.
Thanks again to the small but merry band of writers who join me in the Interwebs. Some days I don’t know how we manage to light the headlamps and ride the creaky elevator down into the word mines, but we do.
Comments Off on Catching up after a week of SNAFUs
My last in-person con was FOGcon in March 2020, when COVID was just starting to build itself up to the life-changing, death-dealing, absolute FUBAR pandemic that continues to run off-Broadway (and everywhere else).
My last Worldcon was #76 – San Jose (2018). The ones that followed were avoided due to finances /COVID (Ireland, New Zealand) and scheduling/COVID (Washington, DC). Which brings us to Chicago in 2022.
By this time, my daughter was starting her third year at Columbia College Chicago, giving the family an opportunity to travel together, get her new apartment set up, and maybe take in some panels. Thanks to a fellow Viable Paradise alum, we were able to snag another adult membership for $0. Huzzah!
We stayed for the entire length of the con (plus an extra day for me) at the Hyatt Regency, the event venue. In a suite. So there was plenty of time to sprawl and, later, host our first Cards Against Humanity game in, uh, about 4 years.
It was good. Weird, but good. My in-person event skills were rusty, to say the least. So many people! So many masks! The volunteers/staff all did a pretty fine job of herding the cats. There was an enormous, overwhelming amount of programming, offered in-person, online, and hybrid. So kudos to everyone who pitched in. I wished I’d had the time and energy to do more.
So what did I do, between getting my daughter moved in and trying to catch a few minutes to say hi to friends from the Before Times?
Thursday – Got our badges and attended the Opening Ceremony. The toastmasters, Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders, acquitted themselves pretty well (although I will admit their shtick works better in online venues).
Tabletalk – Catherynne M. Valente. She was an utter delight and her stories of writing in These Trying Times™ resonated strongly. (Full disclosure – I had entered the lottery for two different author talks (the COVID version of the traditional Kaffeeklatsch) and had to bail on one. Sorry, Lawrence M. Schoen! )
Geeky Parenting: Raising the Next Generation
What’s With Chicago? Its Quirks, Personality and Charm – Hey, I learned some fun things about the Windy City
Improv Star Trek – Attended with my daughter. An absolute hoot.
Themed Readings: Fairy Tales and Myth – Spent a lovely hour listening to Elise Stephens and Jean Bürlesk. Quality writing and excellent performances in a small room so we could hear everything. We could have spent a few days just doing this.
Let Me Tell You About the Very Alien: They Are Different From You and Me
Getting the “Cyber” Part Right
Best of the Year – Listened to a top-shelf panel of anthology editors, including Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, who overcame all manner of obstacles to reach Chicago. Pleased to finally meet him in person after following his social media.
Dealer Room – As the last part of my belated birthday celebration, I bought a couple of prints in an auction, and acquired several tee shirts and books.
Cards Against Humanity in our suite – our intrepid band included four (4!) Fire Wombats, plus family and friends, two of whom had never played. Much horribleness ensued.
What makes The Good Place Work – a fun, philosophical panel devoted to the themes and characters of the meme-worthy sitcom. Got to meet one of my Canadian editors, Andy Dibble!
Themed Readings: Humor-A – Listened to another Fire Wombat, Alex Shvartsman, read from his new novel, The Middling Affliction. Found a copy later in the Dealer Room.
Hugo Awards Ceremony – watched the stream from my suite because the reported COVID numbers were starting to creep up.
Our suite didn’t have a kitchenette, or even a microwave (boo, Hyatt) so we stocked up on Whole Foods groceries and gave the local restaurants some business, as long as we could get outdoor tables. Special mention goes to FireLake Grill House and Cocktail Bar around the corner at the Radisson Blu hotel. There we encountered The Primordial Pretzel. Two pounds of salty, bready goodness. With sauces.
I’m glad I went, even if it felt particularly awkward at times. My one wish would have been more time just hanging out with people and buying them drinks. It was very, very good to see my fellow VP 16 alum, and some of my favorite writers and editors.
More writing time (or writing brain) would also have been good.
And yeah, I didn’t take enough pictures (or good ones, at least).
Posted onJuly 14, 2022|Comments Off on Hey, I did my first (video) reading
My first reading took place (mumble mumble) years ago when I was teaching English Comp and Creative Writing at a community college in Puyallup, WA. I think I did about 15 minutes of my story “Walking Backward Through Death’s Door.”
Since then, I’ve done one reading at FogCon and another in San Francisco for the Abandoned Places book launch. That was a dark and stormy night, literally, so we had only 4 people in the audience.
Last night I participated in Story Hour at the invitation of fellow SF/F writer, Laura Blackwell. This is a weekly online event that gathers together some excellent writers to read a complete story. In my case, I didn’t have anything of the appropriate length (20-25 minutes), so I did a selection of flash fiction.
Man, I wish I had a TelePrompter – it was a bit of a challenge to balance reading from my screen and monitoring the Zoom call. Having said that, folks seemed to enjoy my performance. (And kudos to the other author of the event, Izzy Wasserstein. Go read her stuff. She’s really good.)
Posted onJune 16, 2022|Comments Off on Not exactly a writing square, but I’ll take it
Some of you may be familiar with the Career Bingo tab on the Tools for Writers spreadsheet, which is distributed every year by Christie Yant. There are squares for things like “First submission!” and “Apply to a workshop.” I’ve added my own squares, such as “200th Rejection.”
This month I hit a small milestone: four sequential months with stories published. It wasn’t planned, believe me. Just the vagaries of publishing, or the alignment of planets.