Monthly Archives: November 2013

Line and Orbit sequel news!

The news is that I’m rewriting it. Almost completely. Not going back through and changing some scenes around, not making some major adjustments. I mean I’m scrapping what I have and starting almost entirely from scratch. With the exception LineandOrbitof one subplot, and a few characters, it’s going to be a totally different book.

There are a number of reasons why I’m doing this. Some of it is that, on further consideration, there are  a number of aspects of Fall and Rising as the current version stands that simply don’t work as well as they could. I took on a lot in that book, and I’m not confident that I pulled all of it off as well as I might have. I’m not averse to failure, even in public, but it’s something that I also see no reason not to avoid if at all possible. A lot of Fall and Rising is uncomfortable, and I’m not convinced that all of it is uncomfortable in a good way.

Another reason is money. I want to sell this book and I want to get paid.

I haven’t had any luck finding a publisher for it as it is. This is a problem, and the problem is compounded by the fact that it’s a sequel, not a standalone novel. It’s also much bleaker than Line and Orbit, and while I love and value my bleak writing – my short fiction can be just brutal a lot of the time – I’m not sure that bleak is the right tone for this series. I don’t believe that sequels have to perfectly match their predecessors in tone, but I also don’t believe that they should be vastly different.

So while I dearly love Fall and Rising and while I’ve very proud of huge chunks of it, it’s going into the proverbial drawer and something else is happening. I view this as a learning experience. I don’t think it was a mistake, and I don’t think the effort I put into it was wasted. It just isn’t going to be what I thought it was.

The takeaway is that this never stops being an educational process.

So, as of right now, here are the things (I think) I know about this new version of the next chapter of Line and Orbit:

  • The focus is back on Adam and Lochlan. I love Eva and Kyle, and I think they’ll be showing up in a major way, but Adam and Lochlan were among the primary things that people seemed to fall in love with in the first book, and I think it makes sense to stick with them. That means that this is back to being primarily “M/M” (scare quotes because I am still not 100% comfortable with that categorical marker). There are a number of reasons why I think this is a Good Thing on the whole.
  • It’s not going to be as goddamn bleak. I think a lot of bad things will still happen, but not nearly to the degree that they were happening in the first version of the book.
  • Spoiler alert: For those of you who’ve read my story in Hellebore and Rue, you may see some familiar faces. I’m really pleased about this, and I’m happy that I’m doing this rewrite if only because I get to circle back around in that way.
  • Nkiruka, the would-be replacement for Ixchel, is still in the game.
  • The villain remains the same guy with  the same characterization. Because I love his perfect face.
  • It does essentially the same job as the first version. That is, setting up the third and final book in the series, in essentially the same way. We end at basically the same place, we’re just getting there by a very different route.

So that’s where things currently stand. I’ve started work on it and I don’t expect to blast through it nearly as fast as Labyrinthian (which takes place in the same ‘verse so will hopefully act as an appetite whettener), so we’re ideally talking a finished MS by the end of January at the latest. I’m also supposed to be writing Rookwar, the third book in the Casting the Bones trilogy, so Fall and Rising may get pushed back depending on what my priorities end up being. Oh, yeah, I’m also theoretically writing a doctoral dissertation. So there’s that.

Anyway, for those who are interested, them’s the haps.

On the completion of large things

I’m never sure what to do with myself after I finish a book. There used to be this huge sense of accomplishment and GO ME I’M AWESOME and I still do get sorta cocky about it because I wrote a book and it’s a thing I get to do, but mostly my internal sense is one of well thank Christ THAT’S over. This is true even if I’ve really been enjoying myself. I don’t know if I’m jaded or what, but that’s what seems to happen now.

So with Labyrinthian. I finished the primary editing pass yesterday and I think it’s pretty much ready to go off to the publisher, and I really love it as a book, but I look back over the 88k+ words I wrote and I just feel sort of tired, more than anything. Maybe it also comes from the now-distant discovery that finishing a novel isn’t the ticket to writerly success that I think a lot of us sort of subconsciously think it might be, even if we intellectually know it isn’t. You finish a novel and then… You have a novel. You have a bunch of words. Whoop-de-doo.

I’ve written stuff along these lines before, about how the anxiety and self-doubt don’t appear to go away regardless of how much you publish in however many great places – though it’s also true that I’m pretty much finished doubting my own raw ability – but this isn’t even anxiety and self-doubt so much as it is a crushing ennui. I feel sort of disengaged from a lot of things. I’m getting back on the horse regarding a lot of other things I neglected over the course of this whole process, and that’s great, but in terms of creative stuff, I feel so blah.

And of course I have another two books to write in the next few months. So there’s that.

Here are all my Nebula-eligible things

I guess it’s that time again: Here are all the stories I published in 2013, for consideration for award noms. Not all of them are available for free, but I’m happy to provide copies for people who are nominating and would like to give them a look.

Short Fiction

Novels

If you put any of these forward, thanks a whole bunch!

Sunday Linkdump: A smile I’ve learned to fear

Taken this morning by the husband at Point Lookout State Park in Maryland. Full set.

Taken this morning by the husband at Point Lookout State Park in Maryland. Full set.

Back in the saddle.

  • “Confessions of a Drone Warrior”. This is wrenching, horrifying, and a side of drone operation that most people can’t imagine.

    Airman First Class Brandon Bryant stared at the scene, unblinking in the white-hot clarity of infrared. He recalls it even now, years later, burned into his memory like a photo negative: “The smoke clears, and there’s pieces of the two guys around the crater. And there’s this guy over here, and he’s missing his right leg above his knee. He’s holding it, and he’s rolling around, and the blood is squirting out of his leg, and it’s hitting the ground, and it’s hot. His blood is hot. But when it hits the ground, it starts to cool off; the pool cools fast. It took him a long time to die. I just watched him. I watched him become the same color as the ground he was lying on.”

  • “Afrofuturism and Drones”. This is pretty fabulous.

    Drone mythos might help us conceptualize and critique the role of anti-blackness in contemporary imperialism. When we Americans think of drones, we usually think of them as something that happens in Pakistan, Yemen, or other Middle Eastern locations. However, droning practices certainly exist over here–you could think of Stop & Frisk and Stand Your Ground as a method of striking a constant pitch of fear among targeted populations. How might this idea that droning only happens “over there” obscure racist droning “over here”? In other words, how does droning re-enforce anti-black racism? On the other hand, how does anti-black racism facilitate droning, especially insofar as droning seems to target non-black people of color?

  • Impressionist paintings of scenes from zombie movies. Nothing more need be said.
  • “Finally, an Art Form That Gets the Internet: Opera”. This is quite simply one of the most remarkably conceived stage productions I have ever heard of. I desperately want to talk to this guy. Though he does still fall into the trap of conceiving “online” and “offline” as somehow different “spaces”.

    All at once, projections flicker upon the surface of the towers. We see the same massive chatlike interfaces, and a single phrase scrolling down them, like someone is typing it, again and again and again: “U there? U there? U there? U there?” The chorus sings those words, too, so we’re hearing and seeing them, and more words follow, until all the words tumble away into a projection of a vast, open space, across which helixes and plasma and networks flash and spin. Under all this, the strings pulse with exhilaration, and the low winds sound low, sustained tones, a phase slower than the anxious beat. As the chorus sing short phrases like this—“u there? u there? hey hey hey”—dancers now enter, gesticulating, moving fast-slow-fast with the artificiality of a simulation.

  • “Everyone is Tired of White People on TV”. And yet guess how much of a difference it makes to who’s on TV.

    And it gets better! Not in the sense of it gets more diverse and such. Just that the data justifies the points we are constantly trying to make (which is that the more diverse things are at every level, the more enjoyable televisions shows are) BECAUSE shows with diverse writing staffs also fare better in cable ratings. Researchers found that writing staffs with 10% minority or less (AKA a vast majority of shows in the analysis) slumped in ratings when compared to shows that had 11-20% and 41-50% minority staffs.

  • I wrote a thing on creepypasta and horror fiction.

    What comes to mind first when I consider creepypasta are campfire stories. I think it’s a pretty obvious jump; there may be no physical co-presence, but to me the feel is very similar: people sitting in the dark together, looking at something bright and glowing, passing around things to make each other shiver and wonder what might really be out there in the shadows.

Let’s all just bask in one of the greatest video game themes of all time.

Writerly updates

I’m planning to actually do a Sunday linkdump later this evening – shock! – but for the moment here’s a roundup of some stuff that’s been going on in the writing area of my life recently:

  • I’m writing yet another novel. More specifically, I’m over 45k words into another novel after less than two weeks of working on it. I have never worked this fast on anything except maybe my comprehensive exams. I’ve been yelling about it a lot on Twitter, and I worry that it comes off as bragging, and maybe it is a tiny bit, but my primary reasons are two-fold:

    A) I HAVE NEVER WRITTEN ANYTHING THIS FAST BEFORE WHAT IS HAPPENING
    B) I REALLY REALLY LOVE THIS BOOK

    It is, essentially, a book I decided I wanted to write in between the completing the second book in the Casting the Bones trilogy and beginning work on the third. I didn’t even originally intend for it to be novel-length; I thought it might be a novella, something easy and light and vaguely trashy based on an idea I had years ago and put aside until I could figure out how to approach it, namely: A (very) loose retelling of the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, only gay, and in space. Where Theseus is a bounty hunter and the Minotaur is the genetically engineered rogue supersoldier that he’s hired to hunt down. Working title is Labyrinthian.

    Having written three novels in very rapid succession that ended up having Serious Points, I wanted to write something for therapy, something fun and silly that might also, frankly, move some inventory. But it’s become a lot more than that. Honestly, I’m working so fast because it’s very hard right now to not work on it. I’m enjoying it that much. I aim to be done sometime in the next two weeks.

  • I had a story come out in Strange Horizons, “Event Horizon.” So far the critical response has been pretty great. Tangent sez: “This is a very self-aware piece, asking why people do awful things even as it tells a gripping story…the subtext is powerful and shocking.” Lois Tilton at Locus gave it a coveted “recommended”: “Of all the horror stories I’ve read this season, this one evokes the strongest sense of malevolence.”
  • “Across the Seam”, a story I wrote – in large part inspired by Rob’s own family history – about a Rusyn immigrant coal miner caught up in both gender troubles and a (true life) massacre of striking workers will be appearing in Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History in early 2014. I’m beyond excited about this.

Think that’s everything.

It’s been a majorly chaotic October and a lot about it has been difficult, but I realized a while ago that while I might get frustrated about things (agent-hunting has so far turned up nothing) and while I might experience doubt regarding specific projects, on the whole I don’t worry about whether I’m a good writer anymore. I know, objectively, that I’m good. Whatever else is going on, it feels pretty wonderful to finally be sure of that much.