Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category



08
Mar
10

Kid Ninja

I have three kids: Yoda, the Moviemaker Kid, and the Peanut. Moviemaker Kid (MK) can read, but has a lot of trouble writing at the moment.  He does not let that stop him.

Yesterday, he completed his newest masterpiece, a chapter book called KID NINJA.  Because he cannot write down his work, I am his humble scribe.  Being the Kid Ninja’s assistant has reminded me of many basic truths about writing and creativity; here’s what he taught me as we worked on this awesomely awesome tale of a kid who likes to destroy things:

1.  Get a concept and get excited.  Once MK got the concept in mind — bullied kid becomes a secret ninja and gets his revenge – he knew what he was writing about and he couldn’t wait to follow the main character through the story.

2.  Keep going.  MK wanted to work on KID NINJA every chance he could get.  Little snippets of time, long blocks of time…until the project was complete, he wanted to work on it every chance we got.

3.  Go with what works.  In chapter three, the Kid Ninja goes to a pet store and gets a group of extraordinary pets – a dog that took karate, a cat that was expert in swordplay, a frog scientist, and a hissing cockroach that is also a ninja.  These creatures became central to the story, and I don’t think MK knew they existed until Zach, the hero, went to the pet store.

4.  Do not censor yourself.  The coolest thing I observed in MK’s process was his complete lack of hesitation.  His internal editor doesn’t exist yet, so he just wrote the thing, didn’t stop himself every two minutes to ask, “Where can I place this?  How could I write something so awful/brilliant/clichéd/original/embarrassing? A hissing cockroach?! WTF”  He just. had. FUN.

5.  The perfect is the enemy of the good.  Was KID NINJA perfect when it was done?  Well, no (don’t tell MK I said that, please!).  But did he agonize over the gaps in the plot, the ill-defined villains, or the lack of a love interest?  Hell, no.  He called it good (and it is really, really good) and is now planning a three book series and a spin off series called THE BLACK BLOB.

Sometimes I think becoming a writer means forgetting a lot of what we learn on the rocky road to adulthood.  Thank you, MK, for reminding me why I love this crazy thing called writing so much.

With MK’s permission, I will leave you with a stirring excerpt from the amazing, awesome KID NINJA:

There was a boy that always got bullied but nobody knew he was going to become a ninja.  But, if they ever saw anything on TV with a ninja they would not think it was him.

His name is Zach.  He’s in fourth grade and is ten years old.  And he likes to destroy stuff…..

One day on Friday they went to the pet store.  They got a dog, a cat, a frog, and a hissing cockroach.  But, nobody knew that the cat was a fencer, the dog took karate, the frog was a scientist, and the cockroach was another ninja….

 

Have a great week, and go forth and conquer, word ninjas!

04
Mar
10

“Be nice or I’ll put you in my novel”

A couple years ago a friend of mine gave me a large sticker which proclaimed “Be Nice or I’ll Put You in My Novel.” We had a good laugh over it, but in truth, that isn’t likely to happen. Oh, it is a ‘threat’ authors jokingly use from time to time, and I’m sure some writers do write real people into their books, but not me.

Why? Because I prefer my characters to exist solely in my head and on the page. If I base a character on someone real, that person is outside my head and off doing things I can’t control. (Wow, that makes it sound like I have control issues, doesn’t it? Bear with me.)

Characters of one’s own imagination can be excessively hard to corral into doing things the writer needs done to advance the plot. But characters cross associated with someone real? Impossible! After all, in the six or so months it takes to write a novel, is that real person going to grow as much as your character needs to grow? Or is the character going to get stunted because the author can’t see that real person doing xyz? Also, what if that real person does something absolutely terrible? Do you suddenly hate the character? Just not a good mix, in my opinion.

So, if you meet me in person, fear not: you will not be written into my novel. That said, if something exceptionally amusing occurs or is said, I may put my characters in a similar situation. For instance, under the cut is a deleted scene from Once Bitten based roughly on an actual conversation I had with someone trying to sell me something. This conversation was ultimately removed from the book because it slowed the pacing, but it still amuses me. The conversation originally occurred in Chapter 18 while Kita and Nathanial are waiting to see the Vampiric Council. This occurred directly after Nathanial broke Alistair’s arm.
Continue reading ‘“Be nice or I’ll put you in my novel”’

23
Feb
10

Rants, whines, vents, and moans–we all haz ’em

Happy release day to meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! 

Yes, I have a backlist of TWO books now! World domination is next! As of today, Blood of the Demon is available at fine booksellers everywhere. And probably some not-so-fine ones as well. And, I’m cool with that.

Now, on to my post!

*** 

I’m fortunate enough to be on a couple of email loops or private groups with a number of published authors–some with extensive credentials and years of experience. This is terrific for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the chance to learn from authors with decades of experience in the industry.

But sometimes the best aspect of the email loop is the chance to vent, complain, bitch or just plain whine. As an author, it’s often considered bad form or uncool to make any sort of complaint or negative commentary about certain aspects of the business. Make one comment about the stress of meeting deadlines, and it’s guaranteed that some aspiring author will come back with something on the order of, “I wish I had your problems! At least you have deadlines!”  And, sure, yes, many of the problems or issues we have are great to have since it shows we have contracts/deadlines/editors etc. But, damn, sometimes it really does feel just like any other job, and it’s frustrating to not be able to vent, complain, whine, etc. Even if only for a few minutes.

But today I’ll share a few of the tidbits (anonymized and generalized) that can piss an author off. (Note: these are not necessarily MY rants or vents, but they’re ones that I hear quite a bit.)

Early releases.

Let’s say that your book is scheduled for release on June 1st. Now, if you’re a BIG NAME author, it’s most likely that you’ll have something called a “hard” release. What this means is that the release date of June 1st is firm, and booksellers are NOT allowed to sell it before that date, or they’ll suffer all sorts of dire consequences. (Don’t ask me what the dire consequences are. I have no idea. But they must be dire for the booksellers to abide by the whole thing.)  The reason for this is that the publishers of BIG NAME AUTHOR want as many as possible of the sales of HOTLY ANTICIPATED BOOK to fall in the first week of its release, because the bestseller lists look at the sales one week at a time. If a book sells 10,000 copies in a week, it’s more likely to hit a bestseller list than if it sold 20,000 copies spread out over many weeks.

However, unless you’re a BIG NAME AUTHOR, you’ll most likely have a soft release, which means that there are no dire consequences for early sales, and thus the booksellers will usually put the books out on the shelves as soon as they get them in. If this happens a few days before the scheduled release, it’s not the end of the world. But, if this happens more than a week before the release date, this can often kill an author’s chances of hitting a list, since the sales will be spread out over a couple of weeks. I’ve been lucky so far in that my books seldom hit the shelves more than a couple of days before the release date, but right now I know of a couple of authors who are having FITS because their books are being shelved more than two weeks before the release. What can be done about this? Not a whole lot, unfortunately. But, as with anything else, venting to understanding ears helps a little.

The Fan Who Loves Your Characters. Too Much. 

(Yeah, we’re getting into Misery territory here!) Best way to piss an author off (and end up in their killfile) is to argue with them about the direction the plot is going, or the actions and motivations of their characters. Trust me, NO ONE knows the characters better than the author. It’s one thing to write a review and point out flaws in plot/pacing/characterization or whatever, but writing an author and saying, “[character] would NOT have fought [bad guy]. She’s not that sort of girl!” is a great way to earn the wrath of an author. Most authors I know create extensive character profiles for their major characters, including backstory, hopes, fears, desires, and all sorts of good things that will never actually make it into the book, except in the way the character acts and reacts to events as they happen. Again, it’s very possible that the author slipped up and didn’t write a scene to make the characters actions believable, but, as much as you might love an author’s characters, trust me–no one knows them better than the author!  

The “ebooks should be free because there’s no associated cost” argument.

Holy crapsoly, but this one makes me grit my teeth. Yes, there’s no printing or distribution cost….  but that accounts for about a dollar of the final price.  The rest of the price of the book goes toward silly stuff such as paying the author, paying the editor, paying the copyeditor, paying the marketing/publicity/sales departments… Oh, and the bookseller usually wants a cut–whether it’s Amazon, or Fictionwise, or Barnes & Noble. I’m not going to get into an argument here about what the specific pricing of ebooks needs to be, but just know that there IS a cost in producing them.

Anyway, my point (I think I had one…LOL) is that yes, being an author is pretty damn wonderful, and yes, there are many people who would kill to be in our shoes, but just like any other job, there will always be things that drive you crazy. 

It’s still the coolest job I’ve ever had. And I’m very glad I have a few places to vent on those rare occasions when it’s less than completely cool. 🙂

17
Feb
10

Writing a plot synopsis for a query letter

For a writer, a query letter is hands-down the most important letter you’ll ever write. I’ve been a professional writer since I graduated from college — marketing, advertising, business, public relations — so I’ve written my share of business letters. But no one letter stressed me out as much as my query letter. I would say, as I’m sure every other writer does: “If they’d just read the first chapter of my book, they’d love it! I’m an author, not a letter writer!” And I was a business letter writer, and I still thought this.

I made the mistake of thinking that a query letter was different than any other business letter. It is and it isn’t. It is different in that you’re pitching your book (and you have to summarize it). It isn’t different in that you want to be as professional as possible. Agents love dealing with professionals. So as much as you may want to, keep the unseemly begging, pleading, and angst-filled prose in your computer where it belongs. Believe me, I know, this is hard to do when your budding writing career is on the line.

But how did I write my synopsis paragraph for Magic Lost, Trouble Found? I did what everyone else does — I tried to include everything. I soon found out that “everything” doesn’t fit in a paragraph, and it just made my book sound like a jumbled mess. What I had to get at, what I had to dig down to, was the core of what my book was about. Here’s the link to my agent, Kristin Nelson’s analysis of my query letter. I did a brief intro of why I was writing to her, got right to the pitch, and then did a brief, professional wrap-up. In my pitch, I used the tone and voice of my book (my big selling point), and hit only the high points of the plot. A good exercise to do this is to gather up your favorite novels that are in the genre in which you write. Now read the jacket or back cover copy. That’s what I went for: a combo of big-picture plot summary and marketing promo copy. Give it a try with your own pitch paragraph and see if it works for you.

08
Feb
10

Get Unstuck

It happens to the best of us.  Despite our best efforts, our noble aspirations, we get derailed from our writing track. 

I’ve got two projects that are going feral on me at the moment.  Part of that is because of deadline-related, contracted work, but I must be honest, dear reader…both these other spec projects are simply stuck.  Stuck!

So what do I do?  I try not to panic, and then I run through my bag of little tricks.  Here are my writer’s tricks designed to get me unstuck:

(1)   No floggings allowed (unless they work).  The first rule is to be kind.  Berating myself, cursing my laziness or my lack of inborn talent – all, alas, useless.  My first step is to get a good meal into me, and at least a couple of decent nights of sleep.  I’d say at least 75% of my stuck-ness in writing has stemmed directly from physical exhaustion, sickness or a lovely combination of the two. 

Only one memorable time did fury work,  to push me through a very difficult scene for a manuscript that was due the next day.  I used all my panic, rage, and fear and hurled it at the page.  The editor liked it – all those nasty emotions blasted through to the page and did a pretty good job.  But this is the exception, not my general rule.

(2)   Start a new project.  I know, I know…the common wisdom is to finish what you start, never abandon work or you will end up as I began, the queen of the 30 page novel.  But rules and tricks evolve over time, and now that I know how to finish things, I use the momentum and enthusiasm I generate at the start of a new story to infuse the stalled out project.  Like a jump from a fresh battery to a dead one.

(3)   Get back inside the story.  When a story goes feral, I mentally cannot enter the country of the story.  The story seems outside, far away, like a newspaper from two months ago that you find stacked up next to the cat box.  Who wants to explore something musty and dusty like that?

I have my methods for re-entering the country of the story and finding the thread again – I interview characters (especially minor characters who sometimes can tell me things about the protagonist that she doesn’t know herself).  I take lots of naps, and when I start to dream about the setting again, I’m good to go.

(4)   Instead of trying to reignite my passion for writing, I go for reigniting my passion for anything and everything.  I read fantastic books by people writing about stuff that fascinates me.  Biographies of fearless, entertaining people.  I eat really, really good chocolate. (Now, I really should list chocolate as a trick all its own …I’ll get back to chocolate in a moment).  I go for long walks alone by the ocean and watch the gulls swooping through the howling winter wind.  And that infusion of life jumpstarts the stalled project – see #2 above.

(5)   Chocolate.  As I mentioned, kindness usually coaxes much more out of me than the harsh lash of discipline.  Bribes work, and they must be liberally administered, before during *and* after the work.  Huge rewards work too, for a job or a story completed.

This is my short list of favorite, all-purpose tricks.  I have specialized ones that pertain to particular projects – I watch movies set in the historical settings I’m working on, for instance.  And I love to write on trains, for some unknown reason, and will travel to write sometimes.  Sometimes it’s the process of trying new tricks itself that gets me jaunty and unstuck again.  Doesn’t matter how you get there, only that you find the way to the story again.

 What do you do when you are stuck?

03
Feb
10

A day in the life of someone who (ahem) “doesn’t work”

Someone recently said to my husband something on the order of, “Well, your wife doesn’t work…”

Needless to say, my reaction when he shared this with me this was something along the lines of MUSTSTABKILLSLAYOMFGWTF???

Ahem. After I calmed down a smidge (and, trust me, a smidge isn’t very much at all) I considered the reasoning for the REALLY STUPID AND RIDICULOUS remark. I mean, after all, I don’t actually GO anywhere for work (except for the occasional convention, though those have been referred to as my “vacations”. Yes, more STABKILLSLAY moments ensued.) I sit at home on my butt (why, yes, that’s usually how one sits) and “play” on the computer. And, my writing-related income has been approximately $0.00 since last July thanks to the change in publishers. (Though, since the new contracts were sent back a few weeks ago, that should change very soon. Whew.)

So, since I’m not allowed to do any actual stabbing and slaying and killing, I’d like to go into what my normal weekday has been like this past month (and will likely continue to be through most of February.)  See, I have a deadline of March 1st for the third Demon book, which is contracted to be approximately 100K words. (Let’s just say that I’m not there yet.)

**

Wake up 5:30am. Let the dog out. Make coffee and toast. Get the newspaper. (Doesn’t this sound so homey and domestic?!) Drink coffee, eat toast and read paper for twenty minutes. Check email and do my blog-surfing for about half an hour. Wake the Kid and get her ready for school. Walk the Kid to the bus stop. Put the Kid on the bus, walk home. Have conversation with the husband, then kick the husband out of the house (nicely!)

By this time it’s about 8am. Respond to emails that have to be responded to. Open the file for Book 3 and skim through what I was doing the day before. Find my notes on what scenes still need to be written. Get more coffee. Start writing. Oh yeah, breakfast would be nice.

Get more coffee. Write some more. Oh, crap, it’s 10:30 already? Grab a snack. Let the dog out. Get more coffee. Respond to more emails that need to be responded to. Ignore the phone for all but a select few phone numbers. Look at the scary white board with the To-Do list on it that says “Promo stuff for Blood of the Demon.” Oh crap, I have a release coming up and I’ve done NOTHING. Also on the To-Do list is “Answer interview questions for [various blogs.] Oh, double crap. Coming up with witty and interesting interview answers takes me hours, and I’m too stressed about the status of book 3 to be willing to take the time out to do those right now. Maybe tomorrow. No, really.

It’s noon? How the hell did it get to be noon? Make another pot of coffee. Heat a can of soup up. Look at what I wrote this morning and decide that maybe it doesn’t suck too hard. Dive in to the next scene that needs work. Write some more. Snarl at dog for interrupting me simply because he has to pee. Why the hell can’t he use the cat box like the rest of the animals in the house?

2pm. Wow. Have managed to write almost 3000 words. Makes up for the day before when revisions of the previous chapter gave me a negative total for the day. Pour last cup of coffee that I can have and still maintain any hope of getting to sleep tonight. Go back through previously written stuff and realize that there is a Giant Gaping Plot Hole of Doom. CRAP! Fret and fume. Look at the clock and realize that it is too late in the day to start a total plot overhaul (which involves the majority of my living room wall, a lot of butcher paper, and many different colors of sharpies) because at 3pm I need to stop writing so that I can ride my stationary bike for half an hour before showering (yeah, haven’t done that yet) and then leaving at 4pm to go pick the Kid up from aftercare and take her to her karate. Bring laptop to karate and work on edits while Kid is doing her class. Come home and accept that there won’t be any uninterrupted time to write for the rest of the day.

Do evening stuff with Kid and Husband. Tell myself that I’m going to get to sleep by 9:30 so that I can get a full night’s sleep. Actually get to bed around 10:30. Lie awake for half an hour worrying about the Giant Gaping Plot Hole of Doom.

Wake at 5:30..

 But, y’know, I don’t actually work.

25
Jan
10

Story Mapping: How I do It

Today, I want to talk about practical magic — how to make a story come alive.  When I first started out writing, I was the queen of the thirty page dead novel – I’d start writing, and then the story would lose its spark and die on me.  After one too many of these, I read up on story structure, but though my drafts got longer, they stayed incoherent.

Happily, once I learned the trick of what I describe in this post, I started completing what I wrote, and selling it soon after.  And I want to save you the time it took me to learn what I describe here.  Of course, process is different for every writer and every book.  I still will write a short story without any outline at all, and have gotten results that way.  But for novel-length work, this is the default process I use, and it has given me something to lean on when I get confused and lost in the fog  🙂

My process is a weird hybrid of the “plotter” and “pantser” methods of writing a book.  Depending on the book itself, I may improvise more or plan more in advance – whatever the book itself needs from me to come out.  But I have a bunch of different tricks that I use to get to “the end.”

First, let me give you some internet resources:

1.  Jim Butcher’s LiveJournal page:  Jim lays out, in commonsense and no-nonsense fashion, one of the best, most concise distillations of story structure ideas I have ever seen.  His essays on characterization, story arc, and story climaxes brought together a lot of ideas I have encountered in a lot of different places:

 http://jimbutcher.livejournal.com/

Just keep reading and scrolling down back through his story craft series of posts – awesome.

2.  Randy Ingermanson, the Snowflake Guy:  This is the material I found first, and after I started applying his concepts of story-as-fractyl I started selling in short order:

 http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/art/snowflake.php

 He has a computer program that helps you to apply the snowflake method to your own projects, but I’ve used the concept w/o the program too.

3. Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet:  The screenwriter Blake Snyder (who, sadly, passed away last year) wrote the fantastic book SAVE THE CAT, a practical and down-to-earth primer on how to construct effective commercial stories.  Though his work focuses on the screenplay form, his ideas translate easily to novels.  I read SAVE THE CAT before I found this tidbit on line, so I’m not sure if it will be of use to you without the foundation of the book as a whole.  But his “beat sheet” is a basic outline of the stations a story will hit on the journey from beginning to end:

 http://www.blakesnyder.com/tools/

There’s a list of tools on this page, including deconstruction of movies using the beat sheet. 

 4.  Holly Lisle:  One Pass Revision

I was very, very lucky to find Holly’s site when I was first starting out.  Tons of articles about writing, the life of writers, and the practical nuts and bolts of writing.  This article is very helpful in the revision stage, but I take the section “Discovery” and do it before I start writing:

 http://hollylisle.com/fm/Workshops/one-pass-revision.html

How do I use the above resources when working on story structure myself?  Here is my process:

 1.  Idea germination:  I keep a little moleskin journal filled with ideas.  When I read a great poem, have a disturbing dream, get a little snippet of an idea, I write it down in the idea book.  There it may stay for years.

2.  When I decide to take the idea and run with it (or an idea grabs me by the throat and insists I write it *now*), I usually start with settings.  I love big settings, I was a history major in school.  It’s where my ideas start growing into a full-fledged story.  In my mind, the outline/synopsis is my roadmap through the country of the story.

 3.  I do the Snowflake process first, but in a very loose and organic way.  I take maybe a week to expand the story idea from a single, tight sentence to three sentences, a paragraph, four paragraphs, a page plus character interviews.  I also sometimes write up a one page blurb of about 250 words as Holly Lisle suggests in her article.

 4.  At this point, I write a very rough synopsis, often in bullet form.  I use the beat sheet list of 15 story points to work up a storyline that takes me from the beginning to the end.

 5.  Once I have that, I write the first 50 pages.  The synopsis is still very rough, so the writing can be “pantsy” and exploratory.  Sometimes the story will veer off in unexpected directions.  I pay a lot of attention to setting, the main character’s motivation, and the initial set up of the catalyst that sets the story into motion.

 6.  Then I write a synopsis in full sentences, usually ending up with a document between 8-10 pages.  I tweak it and the first fifty pages, and then I send it on to my agent to get feedback. 

 7.  As I write the complete manuscript I sometimes read Jim’s livejournal for inspiration and to help me fill in the gaps in the story that I inevitably discover.

 As I mentioned above, no two books are alike, and no two writers are alike.  See if the tools above help, and if they do, adapt them to your own style of writing and make them your own.  Wishing you all the best as you explore the country of your story!

11
Jan
10

The Velveteen Writer

Oh, it’s my turn.  Hello, Magic District!  Thank you so much, Founders, for inviting me to join such an amazing, brilliant group of writers. 

I figure for my first turn here I’d start off by introducing myself.  Er, let’s see – my name is Michele Lang, I write a lot of stuff, I have a bunch of kids and husband and stuff.   LADY LAZARUS, a historical urban fantasy, is coming out this fall, the first of a series, and I’m beyond thrilled about it.  And, well. . .blah de blah blah blah. . .

Okay, none of that stuff really matters in the District.  I was well and truly chuffed when the Founders asked me to join, and I will tell you why.  First, the obvious – look at the company I keep here.  Whoa.

But it’s more than the names, the outward lists of accomplishments and books and demographic data.  It’s the fact that I get to join them, and you, in the District.  The name of this place dazzles me, dares me to think of the possibilities.

The Magic District isn’t just the realm where our characters wield their power.  It’s the place where writers go to find their characters, the good stuff, the stories – the basement, the dark place, the Nevernever.  Whatever you call it when, trembling, you sneak off to the blank page, the blinking computer cursor, and you somehow, out of nowhere, find your soul’s true home.

To introduce myself in the District, I have to say something like this:  I have disturbing dreams.  Books I love change something inside of me, like a spiritual alchemy.  When I start revisions of a first draft, the first thing I watch out for is the dreaded “brain on a stick” syndrome – where my characters act and react, but I don’t internalize their feelings enough to give the reader an emotional handle.

These are the passions that infuse my writing, that make me Real – like the Velveteen rabbit, I forget myself and my many limitations (thanks, Kalayna, for getting me thinking and inspiring the title of this intro!).  I am so excited to explore the District, the well-lighted, temperate parts, and the bad neighborhoods, the scary, rat-scuttling, stomach stabbing parts as well.  Writing is not all sweetness and light, as well you know.  That’s part of what makes it so profoundly awesome.

Wild screed over for now.  Have a wonderful week!

29
Dec
09

New Forces for a Better Tomorrow

I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome a slew of new denizens to the Magic District. We the Founding Few have become increasingly busy, and most of us have, shall we say, slipped a bit on our original update schedule. We decided an infusion of new blood would be welcome — both by us, as we’re happy to expand our ranks and lighten the load, and by you readers, who’ll get to enjoy loads of new rants, meditations, observations, leaps of logic, leaps of illogic, and other such bloggy goodness by a whole new slew of up-and-coming fantasy writers. Now, play yourself a little mental fanfare, please, and I’ll introduce the new writers:

Kelly Gay

Jeannie Holmes

Michele Lang

Lisa Shearin

Kalayna Price

M.K. Hobson

Seanan McGuire

Paul Crilley

Some of those names may be familiar to you already, and some of them will be. We’ll begin a more robust update schedule soon (though I wouldn’t expect too much from us in this, that last dead week of the year as reckoned by the barbarous Western calendar… but 2010 will be a different story).

I, myself, have little of import to impart, but I thought I’d take a writerly look back over this long year.

Despite having my novel series dropped by my publisher, I continue to work a lot — I’m in the midst of a work-for-hire pseudonymous novel, which is due in a couple of months, and is about halfway done. It’s a great gig, since within the specific premise I’ve been tasked to write, I have near-total freedom to do whatever I want; the result is something that very much resembles a Tim Pratt novel, though my name won’t be on the tin. (I’ve auditioned for other work-for-hire jobs where I was literally given a scene-by-scene description of what to write, for the entire book, so this is a nice variant.)

My anthology Sympathy for the Devil is done and delivered (and has cover art). Editing an anthology was both a lot harder and a lot more fun than I expected. Putting it together and talking to authors was awesome, but some of the logistics of securing rights was difficult… I’ve never been on the editor side of that dynamic before. It was a useful and good experience, and I think the book is very cool.

Earlier in the year I published a bunch of short stories, had several reprints in various markets (podcasts, foreign magazines, etc.), got nominated for a Stoker Award, serialized a short novel for donations online (for pretty decent money, even), sold a couple of novels overseas, and had other nice things happen.

I revised a middle-grade novel, which my agent is now shopping around, and did a synopsis and sample chapters for a very cool project which she’s also shopping around, so I’ve got a lot of irons on a lot of fires. Let’s hope one of them heats up sufficiently sometime next year, shall we?

2009 was a hard year for me and a lot of people I know, a bad year in publishing and a bad year personally. And while the turnover to a new year is technically arbitrary and has no cosmic significance, I find that it does have psychological significance, and if enough people think 2010 will be a better year, then a sort of collective magic could indeed be worked in our personal lives, our industry, and our economy. Such is the might (and weakness) of consensus reality. So act as if we’re in the early moments of a better tomorrow, won’t you?

-Tim Pratt

22
Dec
09

Christmas Stories

There’s a new Christmas story by Charles Stross, set in his Laundry universe of secret-agents / institutional government bureaucracy / Lovecraftian indifferent cosmic monsters: “Overtime”. Reason for rejoicing!

Other Christmas/fantasy/science fiction stories I adore (and read yearly):

Greg van Eekhout’s “In the Late December”, also listenable at Escape Pod.

Elizabeth Hand’s wonderful novella “Chip Crockett’s Christmas Carol,” from the late lamented Sci Fiction, but still available serialized on Hand’s journal: Part one, Part two, Part three, Part four, Part five, Part six, Part seven, Part eight, Part nine, Part ten, Part eleven.

I also re-read Connie Willis’s “Miracle”, my favorite of her many fine Christmas stories, which I don’t think is (legitimately) available online.

Got any favorites you’d like to share? (I’ll also accept Solstice stories, Mithras/Invictus birthday stories, Hanukkah stories, Kwanzaa stories, Winter Festival stories, etc. etc…)