Good progress despite a late start -- I forgot to rip the phone cord out of the wall (I have the cell for family emergencies.) Mom went to the ENT doctor, though, so I needed to hear what he had to say and we talked about the prognosis. Mom has never been fully diagnosed correctly, but the new doc believes she has idiopathic endolymphatic hydrops (AKA Meniere's disease, which affects the fluid of the inner ear). Once I'm through this deadline, I'll be researching any possible relationship between the disease and German measles, which Mom got when she was as a toddler. It makes some sense, and would finally explain the bouts of vertigo, tinnitus, etc. There is no cure, but there are some meds like triamterene to help with the symptoms.
Yesterday I wrote 10K and edited 23K. Today's ferocious goal: edit and rewrite my way through 40K.
When the Going Gets Weird:
I'm shutting down the e-mail for a couple of days to get this book finished and out of here. This is mainly due to people (who shall remain nameless) upset about the current SFWA bullshit. What I've been asked to do is not going to happen -- SFWA has become a little tank filled with great big starving sharks that have begun to feed on each other, and I can't think of a place I would like to jump into less. My standing advice to the unhappy and disgruntled is to get the hell out of the tank. I apologize in advance to anyone who needs something before the 15th. I'll try to stop in here and post progress notes.
I'm coming around the last turn on the next book deadline, and definitely feeling the burn. Much riding on this one. Sticking post-it notes to everything I'm not supposed to forget, but Kath keeps taking hers off. No upset stomach yet, but the appetite fled for the hills yesterday. Onward.
Kath has been writing stories and making them into homemade books for over a year now, but Mike never showed much interest in writing. That changed today -- Mike wrote his first short story for a school assignment in class; a fantasy featuring a weremonkey, a nuclear banana gun, and lost monkey tribes in Africa. He presented me with the story after school (I knew nothing about it) and it's really good. He's also interested in submitting it to a children's magazine and asked me to help him do his first query letter. Excuse me, I have to go weep now.
The galleys for Blade Dancer also arrived yesterday, but in the craziness I didn't look at them. This morning I dug into the box, and found out that hardcover galleys are different from paperback. There is only one page per proof page instead of two, so it's almost as heavy as a manuscript, but the print is much easier to read. One more practical reason to push to get into hardcover if you're virtually blind like me. The title page and chapter headers mimic that slanty futuristic font on the cover art, so it looks more SFish. It's not the minimalistic style I wanted, but it'll do.
With all the work I put into this book, it's a relief to see it come to the final stage of production. I guess unconsciously I've been waiting for someone to kick it back at me. I've always had faith in the story or I wouldn't have fought so hard for it, but it's been a little like a high wire act minus the safety net. If this book bombs, so be it -- that's the risk we take every time we put our stories into print. If it's a big hit, obviously I'll have zero to complain about. The danger zone is that endless stretch between bomb and bestseller, where most books fall. After everything I've put myself through to get this story into print, and all it represents to me as a writer, will I be able to handle it just doing "okay"? Stay tuned to this channel.
The Big Deal:
Being RT top pick is lovely, but the phone never stopped ringing all day, so I'm a little behind schedule. I had hoped RT would give TDE a decent review, but never bothered thinking about getting top pick. This is where being a cautious pessimist results in nice surprises. For you non-romance readers, getting this kind of nod for what is basically an interracial romance is not only unusual but pretty decent free promotion to boot. I knew featuring a non-Caucasian hero outside ethnic romance lines like Arabesque is a bit risky, but I believe romance readers are ready for something different. Plus I just like rocking the love boat.
NAL will be giving the trilogy a good launch, so if all goes well there's a slim possibility that these will be my breakout books. Nobody hold your breath; we shall see. I'm not tempted to do anything more than watch what happens, because that will be the real test -- no bells and whistles, no more of me jumping through promotional hoops, just sitting back and letting the writing speak for itself. It's not hard, I'm too tired from working through Christmas to do anything but produce a semi-coherent "yay" and toddle back to the keyboard anyway.
The Deepest Edge has just been selected as a Romantic Times
top pick for February. Everyone, commence partying. :)
Being on a diet that prohibits flour is tough, but never more so than when I stop by my favorite bagel shop with the kids (both are bagel fanatics; I even pack them in their lunches instead of sandwiches). People on special diets should not be required to go to places that sell the verboten stuff; it's too hard to resist. Especially writers on special diets during deadline week.
Well, I fell off the diet wagon today and bought myself an everything bagel. Everything bagels have everything on them -- onion, garlic, poppyseed, sesame seed, and if you know the right shop, are made of rye, whole wheat and plain dough all swirled together. I like to slice them into wafer-thin pieces and spread them with a little lowfat cream cheese or roasted garlic. It's such an exotic thing to me, mainly because I've had nothing but plain or salt bagels all my life (never salt an everything bagel, it ruins the experience.)
And I really enjoyed this one. I've been faithful about sticking to the vegan part of my diet, so I don't feel too guilty. I may not be able to resist an everything bagel now and then, but they have one benefit -- they help me keep walking past the deli case with all that lovely smoked salmon at the bagel shop. :)
Equal Opportunity Announcement:
Just so no one accuses me of being a total SF basher (who, me?) this week, I got in a frantic message that one of the few living Holy Bovines of SF, cyberpunk author William Gibson, has just started a weblog.
First Gaiman, now Gibson, next thing you know Robert Jordan will open up shop. Along with the blog, Gibson evidently has a discussion board where he reportedly answers questions and stuff. I didn't check this out because I couldn't plow* my way through the front page of the weblog, sorry. This will no doubt keep the purists salivating for months, or until Gibson figures out he's way too famous to be slumming with the rest of us, whichever comes first.
I should note that Gibson is one of the authors I tried reading when I got into this gig back in '98.
Neuromancer was the title, but then I've tried very hard to forget it. It was his bleak nihilistic depressing view of basically everything in existence -- not to mention a completely invisible plot -- that convinced me to forget about SF and go back to reading nonfiction for a few years. It wasn't until I read Perdido Street Station that I ever thought anyone could surpass Gibson on the gross/depressing scale. There you go -- I bet the next big thing will be the official China Mieville weblog. I wonder what he'll call it -- Existential Excrement, perhaps?
Yeah, I know, I'm being mean again. Hauling out the Tao book now. I am water...
*The use of the word "errata" did me in. If that isn't the most pompous bunch of...no, I am water. I am
Some great news from Nora Robert's web site,
about the "IN DEATH" SF/Mystery series:
"[the series] has been optioned by Fox 2000 for Mel Gibson and Bruce Davey's studio based Icon Productions as a full-length feature film. More details to follow as they become available.
Nora Roberts has been writing the science fiction series (marketed as mysteries, but they're definitely SF) as "J.D. Robb," although none of her fans were ever fooled. Part of the problem is that Nora Roberts is the most famous and prolific romance novelist of all time, and the powers that be probably thought marketing the books as mysteries would keep her away from the idiots in the SF genre (wise move, in my opinion.)
The series features Lt. Eve Dallas, a NYC homicide detective solving murders in the year 2058, and is without a doubt one my favorite reads. Maybe the jerk SF purist critics will recognize how terrific the series is now, but don't hold your breath -- despite the fact that she's one of the bestselling authors of all time, the SF snobs contend that she's still a romance writer, and therefore (snort) not worthy.
Arrived in the mail today.
It's a lovely book, and beautifully printed -- the glass shards and titling are embossed, and the letters are foiled. Probably the best cover I've had to date, quality-wise. If you want one of your own, I'm going to have another free books contest at the web site next month. Otherwise it'll be on sale February 28th. Kathy and Mike do need new shoes . . . :)
(And I apologize for the lousy photo. Yours truly will be spending part of the next check on a new camera.)
I have no water this morning (Holly, is this retro-mojo or something?) Apparently someone is working on the main for the next several hours and the whole neighborhood has been put on Sahara status. I have plenty of drinking water in the fridge, so me and the cats won't die of thirst, but I do laundry in the a.m., and not being able to is bugging the hell out of me. Maybe because Rush threw up on my favorite pair of old black jeans last night. I need to go write now and stop obsessing about the wash . . .
What's the formula for happiness? According
to a couple of British researchers, happiness = P + 5E + 3H*.
That's ridiculous, of course -- everyone knows the formula for happiness is a highly guarded, top-secret equation which can only be found here,
or if you're feeling snooty, here,
or if you're on a diet, here.
*P stands for Personal Characteristics (outlook on life, adaptability and resilience); E for Existence (health, friendships and financial stability) and H represents Higher Order (self-esteem, expectations and ambitions).
The Dear Abby of the Dictionary:
It's amazing what a Google word search brings up sometimes -- like the web site for Evan Morris, the Word Detective.
Seems like he's got the dirt on every word in Webster's and then some.
Another blow torch was tossed into deadline Hades today, turning up the heat just one more notch. I'm reminded of the comic who used to tell jokes while juggling an unboiled egg, an operating chainsaw, and I think something on fire. I remember how he smiled while he did it, even as sweat ran down the sides of his face. My job is not quite as demanding, but tension-wise, I can definitely relate.
Lily gave me a book of Tao meditations for Christmas, and I've been reading one every morning. Part of the meditation for today was, "...be like water confronted with a rock. Go around it, under it, and pass on, leaving the solid young rock far behind."
I really liked it, because there are always a lot of rocks dropping down into my little creek, and I need to get past them. The world is filled with insensitive morons who try to block the creative flow, because they can't do anything else with themselves. At times I still wish I could put my trusty sledgehammer to good use, but I'm getting a little better at being water.
Idiot Quote of the Day:
This really offended me on so many levels it took my breath away:
"Lamentably and frustratingly, Charles Sheffield passed away just a few weeks ago at the unfairly truncated age of 67. We lament the passing of his unique presence and talent as we would grieve the death of any comrade; but a special frustration arises in the fact that Sheffield, as a writer, has been taken from us before he could complete his saga of the Heritage Universe. We have to acknowledge a selfish component of our grief: We want to know how this whole saga resolves, although now probably we never will."
--Paul di Filippo, critic
An excessive of adverbs does not constitute sincerity, particularly when you're bitching at a dead guy.
Everything you wanted to know about words but were afraid to misspell:
Medical Terms Classed by Specialty
-- Nice for people who don't own twenty medical dictionaries like yours truly.
Bryson Word Lists Links Page
-- A couple of interesting word list links, including ENABLE (Scrabble Players use this one a lot), Shakespeare, King James Bible, etc.
-- A short list of all those weird terms publishers and writers often use that mystify the rest of humanity. This could be longer; there are a lot of them.
Memphis Scrabble Club Lists
-- two letters, three letters, Q words without U, all here along with brief meanings.
Internet Terms and Definitions
-- Where was this list when I needed it? Extensive and pretty helpful, especially for web-dummies like me.
The Writer's Diet:
While composing a reception scene in my WIP, I realized I hadn't eaten breakfast or lunch. I could tell I was hungry because I was heaping enough food on the tables in the scene to feed a small army. I wandered out to the kitchen on a break, threw some rice in the steamer and wandered back to the keyboard. The kids distracted me about an hour later, and when I went out to feed them I discovered the cooked-dried rice in the steamer. Dessicated rice would make an excellent hockey puck, I thought as I tossed it in the garbage, then went back to finish the scene. Emerged a third time to help the kids clear up after their dinner, grabbed a banana, ate that while I washed dishes. Eyed the rice steamer, idly wondered why it doesn't have an overcook alarm. Made mental note to write to manufacturer. Writers need extra help with this stuff.
I just heard about Tor offering a novel contract to weblogger John Scalzi
for a SF novel he had serialized and posted to the internet. I finally tracked down his site, which presently features a wry and funny explanation of how all this came to pass, if you want to check it out. I'm already predisposed to like this guy, because he seems to understand that he got this opportunity through sheer dumb luck, and I hope his novel does well when it hits print.
I like the hope this represents, too. I know too many writers out there who are struggling to hang on to their dreams through year after year of rejection (Justin, are you listening?) Whether you get an instant bolt of lightning chance, like John Scalzi, or you have to plow through ten years of preprinted "No, it's not for us" letters like me, I still think it's worth it. We're storytellers, and stories were meant to be told.