Apr 29 2018

April, the month of multiple random events


In May, some necessary house repairs are going to happen,  so in preparation I’ve been hunkering down on the book and other writing-related tasks, to get as much done as I can before devoting my time to physical labor.

I managed to squeeze in some  traveling to visit friends who I’ve been neglecting.  Including writer Laurie J. Marks and her wife Deb Mensinger (who you may remember from discussions of her liver transplant a few years ago).  Laurie, by the way,  has handed in to her publisher, Small Beer Press, the last volume of her Elemental Logics series, Air Logic.  Despite having a very demanding day job at UMass, Laurie’s hard at work on her next novel, and we found some time to discuss  both her new work and Book 5 of the Steerswoman series.  We were both pleased with what the other had come up with, which is  a splended thing about talking to fellow writers.

By the sidewalk outside L&D’s little bungalow.

By the way, Book 5 is  now offically called The Changes of the Dark, a name I’ve gone back and forth on a few times.  But when I released the paperback of The Language of Power, I wanted to include a sample chapter of the next book at the end, as I did with the other volumes, and I finally needed some damn thing to call it!  I decided that there was nothing wrong with The Changes of the Dark as a name after all, so I’m goin’ with it.

The title comes from Einar’s “The Ghost Lover,” a song that keeps showing up in fragments in the series — and will continue to do so until eventually we see all of it.

The relevant section goes:

“Until my own hands meet once,
And fleeting, learn her place among
The empty spaces, I will arrange myself
Among the changes of the dark…”

My sister and I also visited our pals in New Hampshire, of whom I’ve spoken before — they of the lovely house on the pond with many blue herons and a very decorative cat.

What do you mean, you want to wash your face?

Mary Ann Eldred, owner of the cat above, is a painter, by the way, specializing in pastels:

The Other Golden Hour

Yes that’s pastel.  Pastel gets a bad rap from the general public, who tend to associate it with pretty little portraits.   Pastel artists can do anything with the medium.  You should check out her website.  (Her work can be purchased.  Just saying.)

Meanwhile annoying minor medical crap continues.  (Minor as in not life-threatening.)  That business I mentioned about my hands last time?  Still going on. Saw a doctor, got some meds, zero discernible effect.  They’ll be getting a querilous call from me on Monday, you bet.

I want to play guitar!  But I cannot.  Today I binged on listening to music, streaming albums from my youth, singing along at the top of my lungs, trying to satisfy my need to make music.  It helped a bit.

The Con or Bust auction is complete, and a lovely person in New Jersey now has autographed copies of all four books.   Someone else will be getting the Del Rey version of The Lost Steersman, as soon as Con or Bust tells me they’ve received the payment.

And the Feminist Futures storybundle was a success!   I didn’t make a ton of money, but I did make a bunch, and it was nice to be able to hit some bills with solid cash. Also, I bought an Ikea cabinet for my office, because I had some stuff just shoved into a corner and it was driving me nuts.  I’m not a neat person as a rule, but I can’t bear to have my office messy.  Visual chaos is just too distracting.  I’m terribly distractable — one reason I prefer to write in the dead of the night.

It being springtime, I find that when I come home in the early morning, the front lawn is leaping with bunnies.

Daytime photo. Also, back lawn.

Some of them seem oddly unafraid of my headlights, and of me trying to sneak up for a good photo.  Alas, night photos only result in eerie laser-eye shadow-bunnies, rather ominous-looking.

And now — again! — I’ve run out of time, by leaving my blogging until the end of my day.   I must get home and get some sleep.  I have to shift to a daytime schedule in order to do the home repairs with Sabine for next two weeks.  We’ve finally made up a schedule. Yes!  Clean that, paint this, remove that and paint it too.  Shift the furniture!  Spread the plastic, get out the brushes and painting paraphernalia.

I plan to watch TV in the evenings, out of sheer exhaustion.  By the way, if you stream Amazon Prime, I can recommend The Durrells in Corfu, based on the memoirs of naturalist Gerald Durrell (brother of the more-famous Serious Literary author, Lawrence Durrell).  It’s charming.  I enjoyed it so much I went and bought the books, which are even more charming, and have a lot more about young Gerry’s fascination with the native wildlife.  I was reminded strongly of my own wanderings in the woods as a kid, every leaf and caterpillar a source of amazement.

The Corfu Trilogy: My Family and Other Animals; Birds, Beasts and Relatives; and The Garden of the Gods


Apr 9 2018

It’s Con or Bust auction time again…


Yes, it’s that time of year, and the Con or Bust fundraising auction starts tomorrow.

As usual, I’ve contributed some items to the auction; not as usual, the items do not include my lovely and artistically handbound blank journals.

Because, alas, I’ve developed this wicked case of eczema on all the working surfaces of my hands — and that’s all the detail I’m going to give you on that because trust me, you do not want to know more.  It’s both creepy and gross.  I see a doctor on Tuesday.

So, I can’t actually use a needle and thread, which I need to make the journal insides; and the fine paper that I use for the covers and endpapers would suffer by being handled by me in my current state.  Also, messing around with glue would be a very bad idea.

Fortunately, I have other things I can contribute to the auction:

That’s a full set, autographed. Plus map.  You may embiggen for better detail.

All four books, and a separate map of Rowan’s world as of Volume 4.

It’s not obvious from the photo, but The Steerswoman is indeed somewhat smaller in size than the other three books.  So, if you desperately only want to have perfectly-matching copies, this is is not the set for you.  Or, you could get it anyway (proceeds go to Con or Bust, a very good cause indeed ), and when the larger-format version is released, pick up one of those to complete your set!

(I do plan to correct the size in the future, but it’s not yet high on my list of things to do that do not involve writing.   I really do need, for the next few months, to focus on generating actual art.)

Also available from me:

Wait, is that a first edition?

The Lost Steersman, autographed, in its original version published by Ballantine/Del Rey.   Hey,  now that new trade paperback versions of all the books exist, this has become a collectors item!   And I do so love the cover of this book…

There are plenty of other cool, rare, fascinating, helpful, peculiar, lovely and/or neccessary things you can get at the auction.

Let’s just pick a few examples at random:

Memorabilia from the Farscape TV show, consisting of an actual signed script, and a piece of the living spaceship, Moya.

Personal consultation on your podcast idea, with an actual podcasting professional.

Wait — a balcony stateroom for two on the 2019 JoCo Cuise?  Seriously? Holy  crap.  Well, minimum bid for that is $2000.  But if I had the bucks to spare, that’s what I’d go for.  The JoCo music/SFF/Nerd-dom cruises are legendary.

Also: any number of books, including rare and signed, but also including random and quirky.  Story critiques by actual professionals.  And bunches of handicrafts.  Chocolate!

Or just browse through all the available items at the  Con or Bust auction site.

This is why I support Con or Bust:

a) Everyone should read science fiction and fantasy.  SF/F is actually good for you!   It increases your intellectual and imaginative skills, deepens your understanding of the world, and can be a great source of joy.

b) Everyone who likes SF/F should go to a convention at some point in their life, multiple times if possible.  At conventions, you meet other like-minded people, people who take delight in the same things you do — and you learn that you are not alone.  There are lots of us.  And we want you.

c) People of color, and especially African-Americans, are very often actively discouraged by educators and American society in general from pursuing intellectual goals, or seeking intellectual values.  I view this as a crime, and a tragedy.  And it also means that many potential readers — and potential writers — of SF/F are directed away from our field, away from all its delights and benefits.   But by helping people of color get to conventions, Con or Bust is acting directly against those negative messages.  It says, explicitly: you do belong here.

Someday, Con or Bust won’t need to exist.  This is not that day.

Meanwhile, I  want more: I want more readers, more writers, more voices telling me tales of wonder.  Con or Bust helps that happen.  So, I help Con or Bust.