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Friday, July 31, 2009

Amazon Taps Its Inner Apple

Interesting article over at Fast Company Magazine. It's about Amazon and digital books and the future of publishing. For me, it's kinda strange reading it. On one hand there are scary aspects; while on the other some of it sounds promising...

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Note On Confident Humility

I spend a lot of time in workshops. A lot of time with aspiring writers. A lot of time with published writers that continue to struggle and grasp for more. Etc. In situations were artists are pressed together intensely lots of good stuff happens, certainly, but not everyone handles their successes or disappointments with equal grace. I'm aware that I spend more time noticing the lack of grace - strenuous self-promotion, aggressive criticism of others, defensiveness, genre elitism, those folks that use every occasion of public speaking to reference their recent successes - than I acknowledge when someone gets it right. So this post is meant to highlight a positive example.

I recently workshopped a very good student story. It convinced me from the first lines. It covered all the basic storytelling bases and then did a variety of further things with understated ease. No bells and whistles. No need to explain or obscure. Just very good writing and a substantive, quirky tale as well. This story was good enough, in fact, that my edits were light and my response included a declaration that I rarely make: that if I was the right editor at the right magazine I'd buy it.

The workshop went well, although I'm never sure that other students quite know what to make of it when I say a story is publishable. It must be a strange thing, considering that over a semester I may see two stories each from twelve different writers, but then only pull out that stamp of approval once. What gives? I don't entirely know how to explain it, but some stories just announce within their fabric that they've arrived. Their genetic code lines up. They exist, blemishes and all, and they exist in a way that for me feels ready for prime time.

Now, the part of this that has to do with humility is that I only discovered later that this particular story had been accepted for publication just before the workshop. Not only that, but another story the same writer submitted to another workshop (also given the stamp of ultimate approval by that workshop leader) had also been accepted. Two new stories. Two hits. Two publications that occurred between the writing of the stories and the workshop meant to tear them apart in critique. That's terribly rare. But it's also rare for a new author faced with the uncertainties of a workshop to withhold information like that. I've seen people try to shape the focus of a workshop before it's begun. Or who inflate their credentials ahead of time (often with self-referential things said while they're critiquing someone else's work). Or who would hold that publication information as a shield to be brandished to deflect all criticism.

The student in this case did none of that. He entered and exited the workshop without a word intended to bias or control the discussion, despite the fact that he had more than the usual ammunition to do so if he wished. Quiet confidence. Without distraction. Competence demonstrated where it matters - on the page.

What does that evoke from me? Respect.

(Yes, I'm saying that like Ali G, but I mean it.)

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Suicide Kings Cover

GRRM just sent me the final cover for the forthcoming Wild Cards book, Suicide Kings. Full on action. Cool...

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Friday, July 24, 2009

David Liss Interview

I just came across an interview with David Liss at Girls Just Reading. David is one of my favorite historical novelists, author of The Whiskey Rebels, A Conspiracy of Paper, The Coffee Trader, among others. His newest is The Devil's Company, which I haven't read yet, but will soon.

Now, as I send you over to the interview I should mention that David isn't just a favorite author because he writes entertaining, smart, well-plotted historical fiction about memorable characters. That's more than enough, but I also should mention that he's been know to say nice things about my writing - as he does in this interview. Smart guy, indeed.

The interview is HERE.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Maya and Sage's Book Recommendations

A while back some kind person asked if I had suggestions for books that I thought were especially good for kids. I figured the best source to reference were my own kids, so I asked them.

Maya (10) and Sage (8) came up with the following list. It starts with picture books and moves forward up to the stuff they’re reading now.

The Gruffalo,by Julia Donaldson
Pumpkin Soup, by Helen Cooper
Where's My Mom?,
Room on the Broom, by Julia Donaldson
I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato (Charlie & Lola), by Lauren Child
Catwings (4 Volume Set), by Ursula K LeGuin
Hachiko Waits, by Leslea Newman
The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread, by Kate DiCamillo
Dragon Rider, Cornelia Caroline Funke
Varjak Paw, by SF Said
The Outlaw Varjak Paw, by SF Said
Amazing Story Of Adolphus Tips, by Michael Morpurgo
Pirate Curse (The Wave Walkers Book One), by Kai Meyer
Stardust, by Neal Gaiman (Yeah, they read the saucy stuff too.)

At the moment, Maya is reading Keys to the Kingdom, by Garth Nix. Sage is reading
Redwall (Redwall, Book 1), by Brian Jacques.

This is by no means a comprehensive list. But these are the titles that came to mind when I asked.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Anticipation Schedule!

I know I never really did a post on Readercon. That's because right after it I was off an away to Maine for the Stonecoast MFA residency, and that's rather intensive. It's all a bit of a blur, really. I just got back yesterday and I'm trying to normalize now, catching up on lots of stuff. One thing that happened over the weekend pertains to the next conference on my schedule, so I'll just slide right into that...

So I now know what I'll officially be doing at Worldcon next month in Montreal (aka Anticipation). It's a fair bit of programming, actually, and includes some cool nuggets that make perfect sense and some other slots that make me look at the screen cross-eyed. So be it. I'm happy to play. My Anticipation Schedule (as of 7/18/09):

Title: Elizabeth Bear and David Anthony Durham: First Novels
When: Thu 16:30
Location: P-513B
Session ID: 773
Participants: David Anthony Durham, Elizabeth Bear
Description: Elizabeth Bear and David Anthony Durham interview each
other about how they work and how they got their first book(s)
published.
Title: The Fiction of Neil Gaiman
When: Fri 14:00
Location: P-516AB
Session ID: 533
Participants: Bruce Lindsley Rockwood, David Anthony Durham, kyle
cassidy, Paul Kincaid, Lily Faure
Description: A look at our Guest of Honour's work in novels and short
stories.

Title: Author Reading
When: Fri 17:00
Location: P-521A
Session ID: 220
Participants: David Anthony Durham, Janice Cullum Hodghead,
Shariann Lewitt
Description: Janice Callum Hodghead; David Anthony Durham; Nina
Harper

Title: David Anthony Durham Signing
When: Sat 10:00
Location: P-Autographs
Session ID: 1310
Participants: Ellen Datlow, Cory Doctorow, Jean-Claude Dunyach, Felix Gilman and Robert Silverberg

Title: We are the Knights Who Say f***!
When: Sat 12:30
Location: P-518A
Session ID: 627
Participants: David Anthony Durham, Guy Gavriel Kay (Moderator), Marc
Gascoigne
, Pat Rothfuss
Description: Diction in fantasy used to be pretty formal, and,
indeed, this can be a problem for the contemporary reader in getting
on with The Lord of the Rings. But more recent epic fantasies have had
their characters speaking more demotic language (and with a fair bit
of Anglo-Saxon thrown in). What are the costs of doing this? Does it
really make things easier for readers?
Duration: 1:30 hrs:min

Title: Writing the Other and Other Assumptions
When: Sat 14:00
Location: P-511A
Session ID: 554
Participants: David Anthony Durham, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Kate
Nepveu, Wendy Gay Pearson, Jamie Nesbitt Golden
Description: Do discussions of Writing the Other reinforce the power
dynamics of a genre structured by racial hierarchies? Is the
assumption that the Other is "of colour" coded into all our
discussions?

Title: David Anthony Durham Kaffeeklatsch
When: Sat 15:30
Location: P-521B
Session ID: 1085
Participants: David Anthony Durham
Description: A chance to ask one of your favourite authors those
burning questions.

Title: Getting It Right: Warfare and History
When: Sat 19:00
Location: P-512CG
Session ID: 718
Participants: David Anthony Durham, Dawn Hewitt, L. E. Modesitt,
Jr., Mike Resnick (Moderator)
Description: Panelists discuss military history around the world and
how to get it right in your work, whether you're writing fantasy,
science fiction or alternate history.

Title: Hugo Awards Reception
When: Sun 18:00
Location: P-710A
Session ID: 10
Participants: Neil Gaiman, Elisabeth Vonarburg, Taral Wayne, Tom
Doherty, Julie E. Czerneda, Alan F. Beck, Aliette de Bodard, Ann
VanderMeer, Beth Meacham, Bill Willingham, Cheryl Morgan, Christopher
J. Garcia, Cory Doctorow, Darlene Marshall, Dave Howell, David Anthony
Durham, David Hartwell, Elizabeth Bear, Ellen Datlow, Emma Hawkes,
Farah Mendlesohn, Gord Sellar, Gordon Van Gelder, Guy H. Lillian III,
Jay Lake, John Helfers, John Kessel, Jonathan Strahan, Karl Schroeder,
Kathryn Cramer, Kevin J. Maroney, Kij Johnson, Lillian Stewart Carl,
Lou Anders, Mary Robinette Kowal, Mike Resnick, Nancy Kress, Neil
Clarke, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Paul Cornell, Paul Kincaid, Rev. Randy
Smith, Sean Wallace, Stephen H. Segal, Yves Meynard, Steve Green,
Steven H Silver, Sue Mason, Tony Pi, Claude Lalumière, Mike Glyer,
John Hertz, John Scalzi, Stanley Schmidt, Charles Stross, John
Picacio, Frank Wu, Sheila Williams, Felix Gilman, Ginjer Buchanan,
LeAmber Kinsley, Paolo Bacigalupi, Pia Guerra, Tobias Buckell

Title: Cultural Memory, Societal Resilience and Change
When: Mon 12:30
Location: P-512BF
Session ID: 910
Participants: Blind Lemming Chiffon, David Anthony Durham, Geoff
Ryman
(Moderator), Lancer Kind
Description: How important is cultural memory? Does it support or
hinder social change? Does it matter whether it is given up
voluntarily or taken away by force?

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Wow, I've Been Busy... and Torque Control

Yikes. I've gone about a week without posting. I haven't done that in a long time. Strange to think, really, as this blog thing is such a feature of my life these days. But... I got back from Readercon and then went straight into preparing for the Stonecoast MFA residency. That's where I'm writing from now, and I'm still dead tired. So this will be brief. Really, I just wanted to say hello. So...

Hello.

Other than that... an awesome, detailed and insightful review of Acacia: The War with the Mein recently appeared from Torque Control.

If you need convincing that the book is worth a read please take a look. Or do the same if you're gearing up for The Other Lands (Acacia, Book 2) but could use a reminder of what the first volume was all about please check it out.

It's HERE.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Acacia: Terres etrangeres

I'm at Readercon at the moment, enjoying lots of good talk with some very smart people. While I'm away I'll leave this for your consideration...

The good folks at Elbakin.net were the first to show me this. It's the French cover for The Other Lands (Acacia, Book 2)! I'd seen an early version of it, but this one is retooled, in full color and virtually bursting off the page.

The artwork is by Didier Graffet.

Whaddaya think?

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

About to Readercon!

Yep, it's that time of the year again. Readercon starts for me this Friday. I had a terrific time at this very book/author/reader oriented con last year, enough so that I'm very pleased to be attending again this year!

My panels are titled: Off Color (which of course relates to issues of race in sf and fantasy) and History and Fictional History.

I'll also be doing a signing, a reading and a kaffeeklatsch.

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Interview bretonne de David Anthony Durham

Elbakin.net just put up an interview I did with them while in France.

It was good fun, done at a patio table at a creperie in Rennes, with a small group of people I now think of as friends.

The Elbakin.net folks also alerted me to another French Acacia development, but in the interests of creating suspense (and stretching content) I'll hold off on that post for a day or two...

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Monday, July 06, 2009

The Geek Curmudgeon

Proof that arc copies of The Other Lands (Acacia, Book 2) exist and are out there in the world! Rick Klaw (The Geek Curmudgeon don't ya know) mentions having received a review copy. Nice. Little milestones in the process...

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Sunday, July 05, 2009

Blog Love - Adventures on the Road to Success

It's easy to be negative. People do it all the time, often without much thought. Bloggers sometimes seem to thrive on it. I guess it's like feeding from the energy of the dark side. Strong, the pull is. Cheap it is. Easy it is. At least, that's how I often feel about... oh, casual negativity about books.

On the other hand, I get a real thrill from hearing that people connect with and make something out of fiction. That's not easy, in my opinion. When it happens it reflects not just the quality of the work, but also has to include the energy and insight that the reader brings to the experience.

Thus, it was with considerable enthusiasm that I came across Kate, a blogger that had nice things to say about Acacia: The War with the Mein. She talks about being part way through the book HERE. And she talks about being almost finished HERE.

I get a final mention HERE. No detailed closing comments, but I guess that means she continued to like it.

Thanks, Kate. You're an ideal reader (and clearly a very smart one).

Best of luck on your road to success.

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Saturday, July 04, 2009

Our Declaration

Yesterday on NPR they read aloud the Declaration of Independence. I quite enjoyed listening to it, and it reminded me of how grave America's grievances with Britain were, how long they'd tried to come to terms, and how visionary the language and objectives were. Yes, America screwed up a lot in the years to come, but still this Declaration does seem to me to be a hell of a document.

On this holiday, when I think of the people across the country citing revolutionary language because they still can't live with the outcome of the last election... Well, I just want to point to how substantially different the grievances the lead to America's founding were. If you haven't read the DOI recently, take a look...

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, - That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. - Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation: For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. - And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

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Friday, July 03, 2009

My Declaration

I can announce with some relief that I've just come to terms with Doubleday for another novel!

It will, of course, be the third in the Acacia series. I don't have a title for it yet and it largely needs to be written, but I do have it mapped out in detail. It's my hope that you'll find it a big, satisfying meal that wraps up a lot of the series' plot threads, sees major characters come into their destinies, and leaves potential for continuing stories. That's what I have in mind, and I'm glad to have Doubleday on board to continue the journey with me.

It's too early to start talking pub date or any of that. I just wanted to let you know that if you're kind enough to begin the series there will be at least three books and a reasonable amount of closure by the end of that cycle. And if you read these books in significant numbers... Oh, I could be happy writing in this world for a long time.

So, for anybody that thought I was just dabbling in fantasy, I hope the continuation of my efforts here show that I'm series about this genre.

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Maya and Persy

Excuse me for a moment, but I have another family thing to mention.

For those who are interested in birthdays and kittens and happy kids... please take a look at The Shetland Trader.

For those of you NOT interested in such things, feel free to ignore this post.

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