Wednesday, December 30, 2009

District 9 review

District 9 came out on DVD last week. We watched it this week. I hadn't seen any previews and heard little about it, so I had no preconcieved notions.

I found the movie unique, engrossing and thought provoking. It's shot with a combination of cinematic and documentary style scenes and even some security camera footage. It was a daring balancing act, but it worked. The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield were different, too, with their seemingly continuous filming from a handheld camera. But I had no desire to watch the former and couldn't get through the latter.

Insect-like, intelligent creatures arrive in a disabled spaceship without a leader. They are like worker bees without a queen, lacking a sense of purpose or initiative. The ship is parked over Johannesburg, South Africa. A multi-national corporation, under the guise of humanitarian aid, takes charge and builds the malnourished refugees a camp beneath the ship called District 9.

The alien creatures were very convincing. The back story could have been more reinforced. It was all in the first 15 minutes of the film and only from one news commentator, whom I probably wasn't giving my full attention to since he was voicing only speculations. I expected the facts to be forthcoming later. Especially since the aliens and the humans seemed to understand each other after a fashion.

The main character, a Multi-National United agent named Wikus Van De Merwe, tasked with serving eviction notices to the entire alien camp, is an average guy, full of conflict, doubt and a strong sense of duty and righteousness. It wasn't until the next day after seeing the film that I came upon an explanation for his seemingly extreme contrary nature. I thought perhaps the writers couldn't make up there mind how they wanted him to come across.

My guess is that Wikus is playing for the camera. His participation in the eviction process is being recorded on video and he has a particular image he wants to portray for the documentation of the event. The most obvious example is when he smiles into the camera and talks about the popping sounds that the eggs make when they're incinerated. He compares it to popcorn. Yet he seems to make an attempt to treat the creatures humanely and wishes them no harm.

Another dicotomy was the tongue-in-cheek humor during the first half hour that drops off afterward. Rather like they decided to take a more serious approach, but didn't go back and delete the obvious laugh out loud jokes from the beginning. I'm all for comic relief, but it should be consistent, shouldn't it? I think a little sarcasm from the alien or Wikus during the latter half would not have been amiss.

When you make a joke about them liking cat food and then show a homeless alien pushing a shopping cart... you see what I mean. Two more funny references and then it goes all serious the rest of the movie.

Why do the aliens call their fuel "the fluid"? No English translation for what it is or does? And what do they call themselves? We still don't know.

There's certainly room for a sequel, and I'd be happy to go to see if they can keep the momentum and answer a few more questions earlier on.

The DVD extras are worth watching because this is such a unique approach. My hats off to writer/director Neill Blomkamp, co-writer Terri Tatchell and producer Peter Jackson for coming up with something truly different and entertaining.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Cat Rambo on writing and Clarion West

I met Cat through Broad Universe. She's been REALLY busy lately. She's cranking out stories, anthologies and is managing editor for Fantasy magazine. Her stories have appeared in the best magazines, including: Asimov's, Strange Horizons, and Weird Tales.

She runs an online game called ArmageddonMUD, is a Clarion West graduate and a former tech writer for Microsoft's Visual Basic.

AW: Who encouraged you to write?

CR: My grandmother, Helen Francis, encouraged me to write as well as to read. She bought me my first typewriter when I was twelve or thirteen, as well as my first copy of The Lord of the Rings. Others included John Barth, Stephen Dixon, Grace Paley, William O'Rourke, and of course all the fabulous people I've been meeting since deciding to attend Clarion West in 2005. My mother supported me every step of the way and even paid the application fee for the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars where I got my MA. I've also been extraordinarily blessed in having a spouse who is supportive of my writing as well. He encouraged me to go to Clarion West, and has been shouldering the mortgage and household bills for the past four years. This also kicks me to be productive - I like working at home, and I'd like to justify his faith in my work.

AW: Do you have trunk stories or novels? Will you resurrect them or call them good practice and keep them for posterity? Do you pull them out to see how far your craft has come?

CR: I have several NaNoWriMo novels, one about a dimension-traveling dysfunctional family and another set in the game world of Zalanthas from Armageddon MUD. I also have a superhero novel, but it's buried on some media I can't access at the moment. I may pull them out at some point, but right now I've got plenty of projects to work on. I haven't taken those out to look at recently, but I was looking at my papers from grad school a couple of weeks ago. I still like some of the stories from then, such as "The Accordion," which recently appeared in my collection, but there are a few, like a story told in two parallel columns, one describing the players and the other describing the roleplaying game they're playing, that are so wacky and experimental that I find myself wondering what the heck I was thinking. I'm kinda amazed I got into Hopkins with that one.

: What can you tell my readers about Clarion West?

CR: I recently talked about writing programs for Jeff VanderMeer's excellent book for writers, Booklife, and I'll reiterate that advice here: A writing workshop can be great, but you need to go in not expecting it to be a magic key. You also need to go in with both a willingness to listen to others' opinions, and enough strength to be willing to stick to your guns if there's something you don't want to change. One of its greatest values lies not in the teaching, but in the networking opportunities it provides.

What I strongly suggest with any workshop is reading at least a little of the instructor's work beforehand. That gives you a sense of their strengths and weaknesses, allows you to see where they're pulling from their own experiences in teaching, and lets you ask intelligent questions. And pay attention to your classmates - keep in touch with the ones you feel some affinity to, because they'll be a source of critiques and suggestions for the rest of your life if you cultivate the relationship. As far as Clarion West goes, it's a six week writing workshop where the group has a different instructor each week. Most are writers but the fifth week is traditionally an editor. In 2010, the instructors will be Michael Bishop, Maureen McHugh, Nnedi Okorafor, Graham Joyce, Ellen Datlow, and Ian McDonald, which is a great lineup. It's an intensive workshop - you are expected to write a story each week, and one of the things it does is convince you that you are capable of writing a story a week.

I went through the program in 2005, studying with Octavia Butler, L. Timmel DuChamp, Andy Duncan, Connie Willis, Gordon van Gelder, and Michael Swanwick. For me, it was a terrific experience, and our class has produced a number of strong writers, who've gone on to do some great stuff. In that I'm particularly thinking of Rachel Swirsky, both a writer and an editor of the excellent fantasy podcast site, PodCastle, Katherine Sparrow, who I think will be our next Carol Emshwiller, and Heather Lindsley, who's had some terrific and wonderfully funny stories in the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, but there were so many strong people in our class that it's hard to do justice to it. I've kept working with Clarion West on a volunteer basis, and I participate in their fundraising Writeathon every year. I think it's a great institution, and I meet a bunch of great people each year. The locals in my class started a writing group that takes in a few new local Clarion West attendees each year, and that group is a source of inspiration and some terrific friendships.

AW: What's it like co-editing a spec-fic magazine? Does it help your writing? How do you still find time to write?

CR: It's fun! And it's hard work! I've learned a great deal from it. It helps my writing in that it forces me to read widely in the field, as well as to help sharpen my sense of what makes a story good. It hurts it in that it does take time away from writing. When I first started, Edmund Schubert, the editor of Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show, kindly took some time to talk to me about it and warned that too much focus on the magazine and I'd find my writing failing.That's still a struggle for me, and probably will remain one. But I really enjoy working with the magazine.

: Has your sense of humor ever gotten you into trouble?

: All the time. I can't begin to say how many times I've stuck my foot in my mouth, thinking I was being entertaining. Luckily, people have been very forgiving. I have had a couple of people complain about my lack of formality in editing, and it's invariably been an occasion when I was being far less funny than I thought I was.

AW: What's your funniest or strangest convention experience?

: At ConFusion, where I was a writer GoH, I witnessed a showdown between pirates and a zeppelin crew. Unfortunately, they did not respond to the crowd's suggestion of a dance-off.

AW: What's your favorite story in the anthology you co-wrote with Jeff Vandermeer, The Surgeon's Tale and Other Stories?

: I love "The Surgeon's Tale." It was a great experience collaborating with Jeff on that, and I think the story turned out amazingly well, with depths to it that I'm still figuring out. To me, it talks about love, and the expectations and assumptions that we surround a lover with. Plus it's funny and lovely, and features a disembodied, crawling hand. What could be better than that? I'm also very fond of "The Dead Girl's Wedding March," which was the first story I sold to Fantasy, and one of the reasons Jeff asked me to collaborate, I think. I had a lot of fun writing that story, and there are moments that still make me grin.

AW: When can we expect to see The Moon's Accomplice? Can you tell us about it?

: The Moon's Accomplice is set in a fantasy world, Tabat, which a number of my stories share. It's a world where intelligent magical creatures are assumed to be subhuman and there to be owned by the humans, and it is in part an exploration of how we both infantilize and demonize those we oppress. A story that appeared in the December issue of Realms of Fantasy, "Narrative of A Beast's Life", is actually a chunk of the novel.The main characters are: Bella, a disgraced gladiator; Skilto, a Merchant Mage who wants to be purely a scholar; and Teo, a young shapeshifter just arrived in the city and seeking shelter from the priesthood he's been promised to. Bella is offered a chance to redeem herself by spying on a strange circus for the Duke of Tabat, and Skilto and Teo find themselves drawn to the circus as well. There's centaurs, a sphinx, dead dryads, minotaurs, and a wide array of other creatures, all caught up in a moment that promises to be revolutionary for their world.

: What else are you working on now?

: I just finished a young adult novel, Phat Fairy, and I'm about to turn to a horror novel, Queen of the Fireflies, that I've got about 40 thousand words on so far. The first is in part my reaction to Twilight and how the young woman in that is somewhat...inert. The second is a response to several coming of age/horror novels, specifically Stephen King's It, Dan Simmon's Summer of Night, and Robert McCammon's A Boy's Life. All of those are boy's stories (yeah, I know there's some women in them, but they seem peripheral) and I'm a little troubled by the method by which the kids in It escape from the menace initially. So I wanted to do something with girls and coming of age. I'm sure I'm not the first, but I hope to do something interesting with it. It draws heavily on the experiences of growing up in a Midwestern town, South Bend, Indiana, in 1976, when the Freedom Train came through, and I'm really looking forward to writing a particular scene that takes place aboard the train. I still like writing short stories and among the ones I've finished lately is a sequel to "Kallakak's Cousins" called "Bots d'Amor." I've also written some dark fairy tale-type pieces, a horror story about television, and some urban fantasy.

Find Cat online at

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Avatar and Dr. Who

Sadly, David Tennant is leaving Dr. Who. Check out this video interview with him and Russel T. Davies conducted by Richard Metzger right after ComicCon this year. He will be missed.

I saw Avatar in 3D on Friday. All I can say is, "Wow!" OK, maybe I can say a bit more. I kind of went in thinking I'd enjoy the animation, but the plot would be a well-worn one. I was wrong. I've seen other movies where we're the aliens. In fact, I reviewed Battle for Terra last April, which had a very similar plot. That movie was animated and had many of the same elements. The military is desperate to terraform this other inhabited planet because ours is dead and we're wandering in generational ships looking for a home.

Avatar made that movie seem like a little cartoon. Avatar wasn't just a movie, it was an experience. It's a little long at almost 3 hrs, but it was exactly as long as it needed to be.

I was furious with the military general and my Cherokee blood did boil at the way white men were clearing the land of natives again. I'd like to think that by the time we can reach other habitable planets, we'll behave better. But don't you think that the African slaves or the American Indians in the U.S. of the 19th century thought we'd have learned by now? That kind of thing is still going on today. There are still slaves in the southern U.S. if you know where to look. There are still "ethnic cleansings" going on in Africa, the Balkans, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. I'm sure I've forgotten some regions here.

Well, hurray for Avatar for making us think and making us mad. Well done all around.

Look for an interview with Cat Rambo on Christmas day. Merry Christmas!

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Friday, December 18, 2009

SF/F author Jay Lake - for real!

I've been attending West Coast cons for five years now, and one name seems to pop up at all of them: Jay Lake. In fact, it seemed that everyone knew him personally but me. And they all had great things to say about him.

At BayCon this year I told Bob Brown, programming for RadCon and Promo Chair for Renovation (WorldCon 2011), that I thought he wasn't real. Everyone had just made him up. I wish I had a copy of the video interview Bob conducted with him on his cell phone in which Jay affirmed that, yes, indeed, he was real. I finally met Jay face to face at World Fantasy Convention in San Jose at the end of October.

I recently reviewed Grants Pass, a post-apocalyptic anthology edited by Jennifer Brozek and Amanda Pillar. His story, "Black Heart, White Mourning" was one of the best, and had one of the most interesting characters.

Now I can introduce him to the few people who haven't read him yet or met him at conventions. Jay Lake is a relatively new, yet successful (and prolific!) author and editor. He frequently appears at conventions and writing conferences, has been nominated for Hugos and World Fantasy Awards, and won the John W. Campbell award for Best New Writer. He published three books this year and has several in the pipeline. This in addition to over 250 short stories published to date. Find out more about him after reading the interview below, by visiting his website,

This interview was conducted in mid November. Photo © 2009 Roger Podva

AW: Who were your early influences for SF and for writing?

JL: I was born and raised overseas, in the days before VCRs were on the consumer market, and satellite TV wasn’t generally available. So I had little exposure to the broadcast media of the 1960s and 1970s, during the formative years of my childhood. What I had instead was access to an incredible number of books, of a fairly random selection and variety.

By the time I was ten, I’d settled in on fantasy and science fiction. My mother had sent me a copy of the Lord of the Rings box set, The Hobbit plus the trilogy, for Christmas that year. I’d begun reading my way through the classic Heinlein and Asimov juveniles, along with other random fare ranging from Andre Norton to Samuel R. Delany. It was a largely unguided process, wading through a library that would be recognizable to a fan fifteen or twenty years older than me, and it settled genre fiction around me like a mold, a base, a foundation.

I think that period of my reading was capped by discovering Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun when I was twenty, on a college roommate’s shelf. I read that and thought, “We’re allowed to do this with the language?” That’s when my ambition to be a writer truly began to gel.

AW: What was the best bit of advice you ever received regarding your writing?

JL: Ray Vukcevich once said to me, “cut out all the parts that aren’t interesting.” The trick is learning to tell the difference, of course. That can take a lifetime. I’m also pretty fond of “write more.” Everything else is just suggestions.

AW: Can you tell us a little bit about the three novels that came out this year?

JL: It has been a bit of a busy year, yes. Green came out from Tor Books this past June. That’s a secondary world fantasy, essentially a coming of age adventure story with gods, architecture and sex. One reviewer referred to the book as being about “teenage lesbian ninja nuns.” I’m not sure I’d have put it that way, but I’ll roll with it. There is a sequel, Endurance, coming out in 2011, and a third book, Kalimpura, in 2012.

In October of this year, Night Shade Books finally shipped Madness of Flowers. That’s my sequel to 2006’s Trial of Flowers. They’re both secondary world fantasies set in and around the City Imperishable, the decaying capital of a lost empire that mostly lives now off banking, manufacturing, and dreams of past glory. Publishers Weekly referred to the first book as “a grand Guignol of violence and seriously perverse sex.” (Both books received starred reviews there.) I prefer to think of it as meditation on urban planning and the processes of political succession, but to each their own.

Here at the end of 2009, MonkeyBrain Books is putting out Death of a Starship. This is a very short novel, 49,000 words, classic SF adventure involving mysterious aliens, lost battleships and a priest who conducts investigations for the X-Files unit of a future empire-spanning orthodox church. Think of it as Saturday afternoon space opera.

AW: When did you catch the public speaking bug and how?

: Well, basically, I’m what happens when the class clown grows up without being sufficiently suppressed by the educational system in the process. I’ve always been happy to yak it up in groups. My taste for formal public speaking – toastmaster work, charity auctions, that kind of thing – actually stems from an advertising job I had in the mid-1990s where our CEO believed that every employee should go through speaker training. This was to make us better presenters, and more effective communicators with our peers and our clients. I’m not sure his plan did all that much for its intended goal, but the training sure educated and formalized my inner ham.

AW: How does your editing compliment your writing and vice versa?

JL: In simplest terms, the writing always comes first. It can’t be any other way for me. But I love doing editing work, because that gives me a lot of insight into the processes and mechanisms of story, in ways I could not achieve from reviewing my own work. I can’t detach from my prose the way I am already detached from anyone else’s. It’s like trying to see the faults in your children.

Editing work also lets me see what writers are doing right now. This isn’t a case of “spot the trend”, but more like a spot check on craft, on theme, on styles as they evolve in the marketplace. Remember that anything you see in print is somewhere between three months and three years old before it appears. Quite often on the long side of that. So reading manuscripts gives me a different relationship to what my fellow writers are up to, one I don’t have any other way to create.

All of that, of course, feeds back into my writing, both directly and indirectly.

AW: How have your struggles with cancer affected your writing?

JL: Profoundly. I’m right now working on a cancer story. Framing my fears, my feelings, my experiences, on the page is certainly therapeutic for me in some obvious ways. But I already know from my work over the past eighteen months of blogging my cancer experience, and being publically frank about things that are far more often left unspoken, that it can be therapeutic for others.

Even getting away from that kind of immediacy, cancer is absolutely affecting my themes, my literary concerns, my voice, my style. I am being remade. Ask me in a few years what it all means, and I might have a glimmering of an answer. Right now I am simply embedded in the journey.

AW: I understand you have done a bit of globe trotting both growing up and as an adult. If you could live anywhere (money is no object, family can come with or not, you can afford a private jet to get to all the conventions, etc.) where would you want to live? And why?

JL: I would live everywhere! A house in Yorkshire, an apartment in Hong Kong, a houseboat in Johannesburg. Why not? The world is as small as your resources can make it, and there is literally nowhere I wouldn’t want to go see, go spend time in. A dream job of mine would be to be sponsored to go photograph and blog around the world, keeping enough bandwidth for my fiction, and seeing everything I could.

But even then, I think I would still call Portland home. I’ve been in all fifty states, and several dozen foreign countries on four continents, and Portland is the place I like best for just everyday living.

AW: Social networking has really taken off recently. More people communicate via email and cell phones, and don't even have a land line. What do you think communication will look like ten years from now?

JL: Hah! If I could answer that question, I’d be living the life I just described. I mean, who foresaw Twitter? Or blogging? Or the Web? Or email? Or cell phones?

To give you a slightly more serious answer, and to maintain at least a shred of my SF writer cred, I have to say that message platform convergence is nearly certain. Look at Google Wave for an example of precisely that effort. Or how Google Voice is thoroughly virtualizing the telephone experience, after well over a century of a fixed model which even cellphones essentially emulate.

Email has a completely different rhythm than chat, or SMS. The social networks like Facebook have yet another rhythm. But clients, and protocols, that can combine or multiply access across divergent channels will provide immense convenience to users, and therefore power to whoever controls those clients and protocols.

AW: What are you currently working on?

JL: A cancer story called “The Specific Gravity of Grief”, for Fairwood Press. I want to get that done before my upcoming surgery. I had also planned to spend the rest of this year revising a novel jointly authored with my life partner, Shannon Page, but the current cancer issues are probably going to delay that. The book is Our Lady of the Islands, and is a fantasy about a middle-aged woman with grandchildren, a bad marriage and a moderately successful business, who gets sucked very unwillingly into the business of gods and politics.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Clash of the Titans, awards and honors

This looks fun!! A remake of Clash of the Titans!

Here's the latest review of Awesome Lavratt.

My friend and fellow writer, whom I just guest blogged for, mentioned me on her guest blog on One Hot Mess. Her topic is attending sf conventions as a writer.

David D. Levine won the Endeavor Award for Space Magic. Congrats to him!

And here I am mentioning Joe Haldeman again. He was one of the Endeavor Award judges and he was just named Grand Master of Science Fiction Writers of America.

I finished Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde. Loved it! Review to follow on Mostly Fiction Book Reviews. I'll post the link when it goes up. Feel free to read my interview with Fforde while you wait.

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Squeezing out words and slicing words out

I had an interview planned for yesterday that had to get bumped to later, so here I am on Saturday struggling to wrestle more words out of my brain. I just finished a guest blog post for my friend and fellow writer, Sue Bolich on word economy at Words from Thin Air. It was a very timely topic for me since I had just whacked 1100 words off a story last weekend.

I'm also chasing my muse for a good speculative flash fiction idea -- with a deadline looming.

My review of Brian D'Amato's In the Courts of the Sun went up yesterday at MostlyFiction Book Reviews.

I received another ARC today. Joe Haldeman's Starbound. I'm thinking that interview might be better done in person. I'll be seeing Joe in February at RadCon. He's billed as the "Husband of the Fan Guest of Honor." That should be a fun interview.

Next Friday, you can feast your eyes on my interview with Jay Lake.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Need your eyes and SyFy review

Getting over a cold. Yes just a cold. And I didn't even get a flu shot. A friend of mine sent me a series of videos of this Dr. Baylock on the flu vaccine. Look at his surroundings. Yeah. If I were him I would invest in a projector screen or folding room screen for conducting interviews at my computer. Notice the duct tape around the door and the stacks of newspapers. He does drape a cloth over some of them.

I just joined Library Thing. They have my book listed, so I figured I ought to join. Like I needed another site to feed with my time. I get a shiny author button after I load up the books I'm reading and send them an email. Too bad I can't import them from Goodreads to Library Thing and Amazon.

There's a contest over at Rose City Sisters for best flash fiction. My story, "Your Smiling Face", gets a vote for each unique page view. So, you don't even have to read it, just open the page. But you'll definitely want to read it. It's a chilling love story loosely inspired by actual events.

For those of you who watch Stargate Universe and for those have wondered if they should, listen up. The episode before last can be summarized by: They find something cool, someone's been lying, they can't use the cool thing because it's too dangerous. The rest was a bunch of soap opera stuff.

In the next episode: Oh, look a murder! Or is it? Of course someone uses the cool, dangerous thing. We knew he would. Then the loose cannon leaves the other loose cannon stranded on a planet with a ship the team didn't have time to crack open and a working stargate. Yeah, we'll see him again.

Well, at least more stuff happened this time.

So, with all the hidden agendas and short tempers on this vessel, are there any good guys? How about a good woman? It's starting to play out like Lost. How appropriate, I guess. Personally, I'm ready for an alien or strange world with exotic creatures. Enough of the soap opera all ready.

I enjoyed SyFy's Alice. Especially Kathy Bates, Tim Curry, Andrew-Lee Potts (Connor Temple from Primeval) and Matt Frewer (Taggert from Eureka, but more importantly, Max Headroom). But I can imagine that the creator of this and Tin Man, SyFy's remake of the Wizard of Oz, sat down with SyFy execs and marketing guys who told him, "You have to throw some romance in there. Not enough chicks are watching the SyFy channel." And he did just that. Also, reminiscent of The 10th Kingdom. Very. And by the way, if you want this chick to watch the SyFy channel, lost the monstor movies and just plain BAD made for tv movies. And the ghost buster and searching for monsters shows. Give me real SF, and try to manage some that isn't military. I can definitely live without romance. Honest.

Alice did have certain oddities that drove me nuts. Alice's coat is lost along the way and suddenly she's wearing again. The White Knight and the Hatter have horses to follow Alice and the prince, but there's no explanation as to where they got them. They just suddenly have horses. If it's magic, fine. But then you have to say it is. It's just sloppy.

Here's an extra goody. The White Hare's Mad March in New York.

And because I can't get enough of him. Here's a Max Headroom Coke commercial. Again. ;)

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Friday, December 4, 2009

Awesome Lavratt and current projects

I have a couple of new reviews of Awesome Lavratt. They're both on Library Thing. I love it when people take Awesome Lavratt for what it is rather than expecting it to be deep or serious. It's just plain fun. It was certainly fun writing it. The second review is repeated on Goodreads. In answer to a comment there, the reviewer adds that Awesome Lavratt is quirky. I consider that a victory. It takes talent to pull off quirky. Right?

I've talked about a sequel, but I think, at this point more stories in that universe will happen before that. I love writing short stories. Of course, there's the instant gratification thing. Well, not exactly instant. But compared to the two and three years it can take for a book to come out, it is.

Meantime, I have three stories I'm working on. One is finished. I'm just cutting it down from 5100 words to 4000 for a venue that has that word limit. I think it will be stronger for it. All that flash fiction writing comes in handy when I have to cut a story by more than 20 percent.

Another is in rewrites and the last one is half done. I'm also determined to pull out a new sci-fi flash piece before Christmas.

My company had its Christmas lunch today complete with gift exchange with the whole steal a gift game. I scored a beautiful set of wine glasses. Time to get rid of the unmatched ones.

I did my first ever IM interview at work today. The company President I was to interview was in Mexico for a convention and his cell phone was in the bag that the airline lost. It was great. Especially the fact that I didn't have to transcribe the interview. More especially since the sound card on my work computer wigged out this week.

Pretty interesting topic, actually. Twitter folks have probably heard about Square, the founder's new company that launched this week. It's a new way to accept mobile payments. The article is up now and will be updated once Square gets back to us.

Next up for interviews for SFOO are Cat Rambo, Jay Lake and Kage Baker.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

New for me, in the news and let the sales begin

There's nothing like the buddy system. I just joined a critique group again after almost 2 years away. It's helping me to prioritize my time better with regard to my writing. That's a very good thing. I'm actually finding time to write spec-fic again. Woo hoo! I'm currently cutting a 5100 word story down to 4K for my next target market. Only 350 words left to chop. ;)

I also joined a local MeetUp for Mystery Science Theatre 3000 fans. As the Mystery Science Fictionator, how could I resist?

I finished In the Courts of the Sun by Brian D'Amato and will be reviewing it at Mostly Fiction soon. I'm still chewing on it. That's a good sign. ;)

I receive a number of emails about new issues of magazines coming out. Just in case you're not on the same lists that I am, SF Crowsnest and Ideomancer have shiny new December issues available.

And these publishers are having holiday sales:

Five Senses Press
Mundania Press
Phaze Books
Awe-Struck Publishing

(For the last three, enter the code SANTA when you check out and receive 20% off your entire order.)

Looking for spec-fic books for yourself or for gifts? Try starting with the Beyond Reality shelf at Mostly Fiction. You can read reviews (many by yours truly) and click through to Amazon (which helps support the site) to purchase.

On my TBR shelf is Jack Skillingstead's collection, Are You There and Other Stories? Here's an interview with Jack at Locus. I became a fan after reading his stories in Asimov's. I'll have to hit him up for an interview here. He gave me a blurb for Awesome Lavratt.

71 more days till RadCon in Pasco, WA! I think I attend as many cons in the Pacific Northwest as I do right here in the SF Bay Area. It's great to see my PNW buddies.

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