You are viewing ckastens

entries friends calendar user info Previous Previous
Keep your enemies close, and your friends on your LJ page
Add to Memories
Life just keeps getting weirder and weirder.

(I wish I COULD buy five copies for my mother, but alas, she passed away in 1998).

This is pretty cool.  Even without the cover.

Current Location: dreaming
Current Mood: amused amused

Add to Memories
I seem to have to repeat this every year or so.  Okay, sure.  There are always folks who come in late, who never got the memo.




I have a website, and I have this Not A Blog, right here on Live Journal, and every so often (rarely)  I post on other people's blogs and websites, or on certain bulletin boards and news / discussion sites.  But that's it for my internet presence.

There are accounts on Facebook and Twitter that carry my name, I know.  Some just repost the things I post here.  Others are more actively malignant, making up all sorts of crap and trying to make them seem like my own words.  They're not.

Accept no substitutes.  This is where I hang out, nowhere else.

Current Location: Santa Fe
Current Mood: angry angry

Add to Memories

I bring you publications and stuff!

THE BOOK OF SILVERBERG! Edited by Gardner Dozois and William Schaffer. Out next week. and full of stories and essays inspired by the work of Robert Silverberg. Including one by me!

Table of Contents

Greg Bear—A Tribute
Barry Malzberg—An Appreciation
Kage Baker—In Old Pidruid
Kristine Kathryn Rusch—Voyeuristic Tendencies
Mike Resnick—Bad News from the Vatican
Caitlin R.Kiernan—The Jetsam of Disremembered Mechanics
Connie Willis—Silverberg, Satan, and Me…
Elizabeth Bear—The Hand is Quicker
Nancy Kress—Eaters
James Patrick Kelly—The Chimp of the Popes
Tobias S. Buckell—Ambassador to the Dinosaurs

Publishers Weekly liked it a lot, and gave it a review which included the following: "Standouts include Mike Resnick’s “Bad News from the Vatican,” which follows up on the idea of a robot pope, and Elizabeth Bear’s “The Hand Is Quicker” which explores the nature of addiction and perception in a society obsessed with virtual reality." 

Lois Tilton at Locus reviewed it positively and says of my story, "...cynical move worthy of the master at his most depressing." (I have just been compared to Robert Silverberg and not found wanting. This is a career highlight.)

And Library Journal says, “Standouts include Connie Willis’s adorably weird ‘Silverberg, Satan, and Me or Where I Got the Idea for My Silverberg Story for this Anthology’ and Elizabeth Bear’s bleak future of false facades ‘The Hand is Quicker.’ …These stories will resonate most with readers familiar with Silverberg’s work, often being playful riffs on his famous stories or novels, but the tales can be enjoyed on their own merits as well.” [full review not available online]

Well done us, I'd say. It's available April 30th.

Also out soon--May 13th!--is DEAD MAN'S HAND, an anthology of Weird West tales edited by John Joseph Adams.

Table of Contents:

Introduction—John Joseph Adams
The Red-Headed Dead—Joe R. Lansdale
The Old Slow Man and His Gold Gun From Space—Ben H. Winters
Hellfire on the High Frontier—David Farland
The Hell-Bound Stagecoach—Mike Resnick
Stingers and Strangers—Seanan McGuire
Bookkeeper, Narrator, Gunslinger—Charles Yu
Holy Jingle—Alan Dean Foster
The Man With No Heart—Beth Revis
Wrecking Party—Alastair Reynolds
Hell from the East—Hugh Howey
Second Hand—Rajan Khanna
Alvin and the Apple Tree—Orson Scott Card
Madam Damnable’s Sewing Circle—Elizabeth Bear
Strong Medicine—Tad Williams
Red Dreams—Jonathan Maberry
Bamboozled—Kelley Armstrong
Sundown—Tobias S. Buckell
La Madre Del Oro—Jeffrey Ford
What I Assume You Shall Assume—Ken Liu
The Devil’s Jack—Laura Anne Gilman
The Golden Age—Walter Jon Williams
Neversleeps—Fred Van Lente
Dead Man’s Hand—Christie Yant

This includes my story "Madame Damnable's Sewing Circle," the seed that eventually grew into Karen Memory (out from Tor next year). So if you'd like a little foretaste of that--and tastes of the Weird West from all these other wonderful writers--here's a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor.

Publishers' Weekly is equally complimentary of this one, and calls my contribution "impeccably crafted." They've also got me gagging to read the Lansdale, Liu, and Williams contributions.


Tags: ,
Current Mood: excited excited
Current Music: Janis Ian - Between the Lines

Add to Memories

Originally published at Lawrence M. Schoen. You can comment here or there.

double spiral

This weekend, I’ll be down in Richmond, VA for Ravencon.

As part of the festivities, on Friday at 5pm I’m giving a talk about hypnosis, and a brief demo as well. If there’s time, I will hand out magic rings of hypnotic power to enhance the writing abilities of any professional and/or wanna-be authors in the room.

No, I am not bullshitting you.

And you know what? It doesn’t make one bit of difference if you don’t believe me, because that’s your conscious mind talking. All I need to make this work for you is to create the possibility in your unconscious mind. And that’s what hypnosis is all about.

So, if you’re a writer, and you’re coming to Ravencon, guess where you should be on Friday at 5pm?

Tags: , , ,

Add to Memories

They do say that the family that plays together, stays together. So here's a game for the whole family. Do it thoroughly enough, and your kids will never really stop playing!

The object of the game is to control the stories the family tells about itself. Gameplay is broken up into Narratives. Each Narrative has a Viewpoint Character (VC), whose opinions are to be treated as fact for the entire Narrative. Note that two VCs can share a Narrative if they agree on all significant points.

The same real-world event (e.g. a holiday dinner) can be the subject of different Narratives from different VCs. Advanced players (like families with grown children) can play with different VCs at the same time for extra realtime conflict, but beginners should probably start with one Narrative per event. That's all most VCs will allow, anyway.

Before the game starts, the VC will assign everyone (including themselves) a Role. These Roles will define their personalities and constrain their actions in the Narrative. Note that neither the Roles nor the events of the Narrative have to map to objective reality. Very experienced VCs can create a seamless Narrative that not only bears no resemblance to actual events, but supplants them in everyone's memory.

Characters, including Viewpoint Characters, are defined in terms of five traits: a Role, three Attributes, a Tape tagline (in the VC's voice), and a Destiny. The three attributes are Consistency (people who are "always" or "never" something have high consistency), Capability</em> (is this person good at things?), and Charm. All of these are defined from the perspective of the VC and do not necessarily reflect reality.

Here are four characters for a family dinner, just to give you the feel of things:

Role: Mom the Martyr (VC)
Consistency: high (she's reliable when everyone else lets her down)
Capability: high (she's the only one who can do things right)
Charm: high (the VC always has high charm)
Tapes tagline: It's a good thing I'm here or everything would be a disaster.
Destiny: Never to be appreciated for her hard work.

Role: Goofy Dad
Consistency: low (you never know whether he'll get anything right)
Capability: low (totally impractical at every household task)
Charm: high (somehow he's always talking his way out of things)
Tapes tagline: Oh, darling, what have you done this time?
Destiny: To bumble on forever

Role: The Loveable Screwup
Consistency: high (always getting into trouble!)
Capability: high (that's what's so frustrating!)
Charm: high (he can talk his way out of anything, just like his father)
Tapes tagline: You're capable of so much more! I don't know why you're throwing your potential away.
Destiny: One day the consequences will catch up with him. (alternative: he'll never amount to anything)

Role: The Smart One
Consistency: high (she always does so well at school!)
Capability: high (so bright)
Charm: low (it's a shame she doesn't have any friends)
Tapes tagline: She's sure to succeed if she just puts her mind to it.
Destiny: To always succeed at everything and never get credit for it (alternative: to fail at something, and be blamed extra-hard for wasting her potential).

The object of the game is to prevent other people from becoming VCs, choosing their own Roles, or creating their own Narratives.

(Note that this is better done without outsiders. They never know their Roles, contradict the VC, question the Narrative, and generally mess things up.)

This is part of the sequence of Dysfunctional Families discussions. We have a few special rules, specific to the needs and nature of the conversations we have here.

  1. If you want to participate but don't want your posts linked to your contributions to the rest of Making Light, feel free to choose a pseudonym. But please keep it consistent within these threads, because people do care. You can create a separate (view all by) history for your pseudonym by changing your email address. And if you blow it and cross identities, give me a shout and I'll come along and tidy it up.
  2. On a related note, please respect the people's choice to use a pseudonym, unless they make it clear that they are willing to let the identities bleed over in people's minds.
  3. If you're not from a dysfunctional background, be aware that your realities and base expectations are not the default in this conversation. In particular, please don't do the "they're the only family you have" thing. Black is white, up is down, and your addressee's mother may very well be their nemesis.
  4. Be even more careful, charitable, and gentle than you would elsewhere on Making Light. Try to avoid "helpiness"/"hlepiness" (those comments which look helpful, but don't take account of the addressee's situation and agency). Apologize readily and sincerely if you tread on toes, even unintentionally. This kind of conversation only works because people have their defenses down.
  5. Never underestimate the value of a good witness. If you want to be supportive but don't have anything specific to say, people do value knowing that they are heard.

Previous posts (note that comments are closed on them to keep the conversation in one place):

Add to Memories
As the Spring 2014 semester runs down -- Final was given yesterday, Final handed off to grader today, the last quiz I had to grade myself just entered into the spreadsheet, the Check-Out form data entered this morning, just down to grading the Topic 1 papers at home and the Topic 2 worksheets at the office on Friday and Monday -- and the weather being pretty outside, I am impatiently champing at the bit for summer to arrive.

While I can't do everything, and I won't overdo it, I do intend to make up for the Year Without A Summer and do some driving and take some photographs, clean up some piles around the house and Do Some Writing! And along the way, something popped up on the radar.

Way back in 2012, I was invited to be a Nifty Guest by the Science Track at Penguicon -- what has to be the only SF and Open Source con in the world (grin) -- as well as invited to do panels on the Literary Track. Alas, Penguicon that year was over Grading Weekend, when all hell breaks loose at my house. So, couldn't do it.

I've been around since Penguicon began. It was at my first or second ConFusion, way back at the old-old hotel, that people were putting Penguicon 1 together. Must have been 2003, unless there was a gap in their run. But it was scheduled for February and ConFusion was in January and I couldn't see chancing driving across the state twice in one winter. A shame really.

John Scalzi wrote about the Forever (War) Tea Party panel as a Nifty Guest at Penguicon 4 back in April 2006, where they managed to move the con from darkest, coldest, dangerous February to Grading Weekend. Again, I couldn't go.

But I did make it to Penguicon 7 in May 2009, when like this year, it came the first weekend in May and not the last weekend in April. I did a couple of panels, took some pictures -- and apparently never got around to blogging about it. Hmmm... I shall have to rectify that. This was the con where I famously arranged NOT to be on a panel with Wil Wheaton. (double-edged-grin)

So Penguicon 2014, which would be Penguicon 12 by my accounting, falls on 2-4 May 2014. And while I cannot yet reliably wrestle a shoe onto my AFO by myself, and I don't quite think Mrs. Dr. Phil is up for another con so early in the "summer" which means no wild hotel weekend for me, it IS possible to do a daytrip to the Westin in Southfield MI. I have been doing up to three hours of driving a day all semester, but will have to do longer trips to Madison, Indianapolis and Detroit this summer, so consider this a prelab experience. In the "old days" I did daytrips to MIAAPT conferences on the east side of the state twice a year, so it is doable. And given my early rise-to-road Saturday just the other week for this year's MIAAPT meeting at WMU, it is even more doable, methinks.

In other words -- I am planning to make it to the Saturday 3 May 2014 day of Penguicon 2014. I first hatched this plan a while ago, but decided not to push things and try to get on panels. That can come another year. There's a reading by Cory Doctorow at noon, no doubt it will be swamped, but maybe they'll let in a poor feeble old man with a walker and a four-footed cane... (grin)

Anyone else planning to go to Penguicon? Al? Ferrett? Beuhler?

Love to meet up with anybody.

I am back in the world, after all.

Dr. Phil

Tags: ,

Add to Memories
Viserys Targaryen is helping to kick off the Santa Fe Film Festival this year.

The festival proper runs from May 1 - 4, and the Jean Cocteau Cinema will be one of the main venues, along with the CCA's two screens on the other side of town.  But to open the festivities in grand style, we're having a special One Night Only screening of a terrific new road movie on the evening of April 30.

BIG SIGNIFICANT THINGS is the tale of a young man who sets off on a quest across America, in search of adventure, meaning, and... ah... Big Stuff.

The film stars HARRY LLOYD, better known to GAME OF THRONES fan as the late great Beggar King, Viserys III, last having molten gold poured over his head by Khal Drogo.


Harry will be on hand personally come Wednesday night, to introduce his new film, meet the fans, and answer your questions... about BIG SIGNIFICANT THINGS, his new TV series MANHATTAN (now filming outside Santa Fe), DOCTOR WHO, GAME OF THRONES, or whatever.  He's really a MUCH nicer guy than Viserys, so do come meet him.

BIG SIGNIFICANT THINGS will be playing ONE NIGHT ONLY at 7pm, Wednesday, April 30.   We will have big drinks and big snacks and we expect a big crowd, so get your tickets early at the Cocteau website:

Tags: , ,
Current Location: Santa Fe
Current Mood: amused amused

Add to Memories

Originally published at Jaime Lee Moyer. You can comment here or there.

Not to bury the lead...

The trade paper of Delia's Shadow will be out May 20th. Two weeks after that, June 3rd to be exact, A Barricade In Hell will be released.

Two books in two weeks, ladies and gents. I have no words for how crazed that is. I should probably start shamelessly self promoting.

Cats must be fed, after all.

In that spirit, I have two signings scheduled in Houston right after Barricade comes out. Friday, June 13th, I will be signing at Katy Budget Books from 6-8 p.m.

And on Saturday, June 14th, I'll be back at Murder By The Book from 4:30 to 6-ish. I had a ton of fun there last fall, and I can't wait to go back.

I will remind the world a few times between now and then. I'd really love to see people turn out for both signings.

Months back my external hard-drive decided to wipe almost all the music off my computer during the weekly backup.

As in ::poof:: gone. Bye-bye.

All the music was still on my old computer, and on the external drive, and it would play if that drive was connected, but the cpu never stopped running and nothing else worked correctly. The extra added bonus was that none of the music would go BACK on to the computer.

I was not a happy woman. I ended up ripping cds to the drive (again) and other fun things to get some of that music back. I write to music, so that was important.

This week the ranch was saved by a 16g thumbdrive. I got all my music--over 3000 mp3s, all of which I paid money for--off the old computer and back on the one I use.

Music makes me happy. Getting it back makes me happy. It's all about the happy stuff. And if some people in the world think that's silly, I really don't care.

Awaken, aka the twisted fairytale, continues to grow. It's creeping up on 10k, which as you know, Roberta, makes it a real book. My brain is giving me the story in chunks, and jumping around in time, and I can see I need to go back and layer in details. But on the whole, I get words when I sit down to write.

Time to write is the issue. I do need to sleep once in a while.

Changes passed down from the corporate level have made the dayjob a stress fest of epic proportions. Which is all I'm going to say about that.

Insert a primal scream here for the rest of real life. Interesting times, ladies and gents. I'd like a little boredom now.

Time to be productive before I leave for a night shift. Day 1 of 7 in a row.

Add to Memories
I've been bombarding my poor LJ readers with a ton of posts about other blogging I do...  But, in my defense, it's been a truly interesting learning curve which I find entertaining to share with you all.

The fun part of this week is that one of my posts got selected for the "Freshly Pressed" Wordpress showcase, and was published there on Monday, which led to a flood of new readers, comments and unusual activity.  I think it's critical for Wordpress to do this, since it gives bloggers an exposure that goes well beyond the few readers they would otherwise have, and give them more incentive to be active on the site (with the associated upsells to paid versions of the platform).  It looks like a smart business move by WP.

Not so smart are other things that companies do, and today's Classically Educated post deals exactly with the more boneheaded side of corporate life - anyone who's ever been at a large (or even not-so-large) company will definitely enjoy this one!
Add to Memories

As a GM, I’m not sure whether my pop culture references are a strength or not.

References make things more vivid for me – if I say, “You shoot, but he slides under your bullets Matrix-style, trenchcoat flapping,” then to me that’s a great visual shorthand that lets players know what’s happening.  Likewise, if I tell my players, “This robot talks like the Iron Giant” or “It’s a vast and curved space station, like the one from 2001: A Space Odyssey,” then that provides a lot of info. So I do that a lot.

The issue is, if my players don’t get the reference, then the whole image dissolves – making it a risky technique.  As they’re not likely to tell me they didn’t get it in the heat of things, leaving them out in the cold.

So I have to ponder how to do that.  Because on one level, a good pop culture reference can tell you exactly what mood I’m trying to go for – saying, “He totally Jackie Chans out from under your punches, flipping across the table and then kicking it in your direction” lets the players know that this is a fast-paced kung-fu fight.  But maybe I’m overusing it, and not allowing my own game to breathe in the process, giving players an impression that’s more pastiche than essential creation.

And certainly if I’m going to do it, I need to provide alternate explanations, because “This robot talks like the Iron Giant” is pretty bad description in isolation.  There’s no context for the culturally-bereft (though honestly, I’m not sure I’d want to play with someone who hadn’t seen The Iron Giant).  If I said, “This robot talks deep and metallic, like the Iron Giant,” then that’d be better – but when I’m GMing and trying to juggle so many things at once, I tend to shorthand.

I’m unsure whether it’s a weakness or a strength, or how to leverage that.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

This entry has also been posted at You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.
Add to Memories

This weekend, I’m off to the Pikes Peak Writers Conference in Colorado, where I’ll be joining Chuck Wendig, Gail Carriger, and Hank Phillippi Ryan as Keynote Speakers for the event.

I’ll also be presenting a workshop on getting through your first draft, doing some panels, and chasing Chuck around with a cupcake gun I borrowed from Delilah Dawson. Supersonic chocolate cupcakes OF DEATH!

Anyway, here’s the schedule, for anyone who might want to stop by. And if you don’t want to stop by, that’s fine. I DIDN’T WANT YOU AT MY PANEL ANYWAY! ::Sniff::


  • 2:30 – Read & Critique 123, Aspen Leaf (with Terri Bischoff, Carlisle Webber)
  • 4:00 – Workshop: Getting Through Draft One, Salon BC


  • 9:10 – Mythbusting Keynotes (Q&A Session), Aspen Leaf (with Gail Carriger, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Chuck Wendig)
  • 11:45 – Lunch and my Keynote Speech, Ballroom
  • 1:15 – Booksigning, Aspen Leaf
  • 3:10 – Diversity: It Isn’t Just for Breakfast Anymore, Aspen Leaf (with Chuck Wendig, Carol Berg, Amy Boggs. Facilitator:
    Patrick Hester)
  • 7 – Zebulon Awards Dinner, Ballroom

This should be a lot of fun. How do I know? Well, among other reasons, it’s because the bar will be serving Brass Goggles, Primetime, Goblin Wiz, and F-Bomb:


From left to right:

  • Gail Carriger’s Brass Goggles: 1 1/2 OZ Scotch Whiskey, 2 dash bitters, 1 OZ club soda.
  • Hank Phillippi Ryan’s Primetime Martini: 1 1/2 OZ Vodka, 1 1/2 OZ Sweet & Sour, 1/2 OZ Grenadine
  • Jim C. Hines’ Goblin Wiz: 1/2 OZ Midori, 1/2 OZ Tequila, 1/2 OZ Sweet & Sour, On the Rocks
  • Chuck Wendig’s F-Bomb: 1 OZ Vodka, 1 OZ Red Bull, 1 OZ Cranberry, On the Rocks

As a general rule, I don’t drink, but I may need to make an exception this weekend :-)

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


Add to Memories

The danger of linking to someone else's post as a short-cut way of explaining what you think about a particular issue is that you may wind up having all of their subsidiary opinions attributed to you as well. When I said I basically agreed with this post by John Scalzi, I meant that I agree that there's no evidence (as far as I'm aware) that anything on the now-endlessly-discussed 2014 Hugo Awards ballot is there because of "ballot-rigging." But it appears some people think I was also signing on to the entirety of John Scalzi's approach to deciding what to vote for in the Hugos. Short answer: No, I'm not.

To be clear, I think John's approach is fine for him. I also think it's fine to ignore and not read a work when you have adequate reason to believe it will just make you unhappy. For that matter, I think it's fine to ignore and not read something because the author has called for harm to you or to people you care about. Art and politics can't ever be completely separated. As a general rule of thumb, when we think our approach to something is politics-free, that generally means the politics are so normative as to be invisible.

I've said before that I value some work by some very right-wing artists, for instance Ezra Pound. I've pointed to Chip Delany's point (in his introduction to Heinlein's Glory Road) about the royalist Balzac being Marx's favorite novelist. None of this means that I think everybody's obliged to give some kind of Olympian "fair shake" to anyone's art just because it's art. The world is full of art. It's not that special, and making it doesn't get any artist off the hook for being a terrible human being. If you're a terrible human being, lots of people are not going to want to pay attention to your art even if it's the best thing since Dante on toast. I can't imagine that any of this is actually news to anybody.

Add to Memories

I had an interesting discussion about prologues yesterday.

Some folks seemed to feel very strongly that readers universally skip (or skim to the point of skipping) a prologue.  Which isn’t actually a bad approach, since as Raymond Arnold accurately pointed out, “The opening prologue either gives backstory, or shows teaser scene of who the Big Bad is without introducing why our character cares about them.”  (For more info on why authors do this, check out Dan Wells’ thoughts on The Ice Monster Prologue.)  And the anti-prologue people were vociferous in insisting that most folks flat-out ignored the prologue, and maaaaybe went back to read it later when they got better context.

Whereas I’m of the opinion that most people read straight through.  I believe this because I was shocked to discover that most people read anthologies straight through, in order.  (I’m a “read my favorite authors, then read the shortest stories, then read the ones with the interesting titles, then read the rest” kinda guy.)  So the idea that people are skipping the prologue in a book intended to be read sequentially seems crazy to me…

…but what do I know?

Well, what I know is that for purposes of being a better writer, agents and book companies do read the prologue first, and you’ll get your ass rejected if it’s not good, so you’d better treat your prologue like it’s the first thing people will read, or they won’t ever get the chance to read it.  (Unless you self-publish, of course.)

But leaving all thoughts of manuscript salability aside, when you are presented with a prologue, what do you do as a reader?  I personally read lightly – it’s foolish to get attached to anyone in a prologue, to the point where I’m considering titling the prologue to my new book “Don’t Worry, Dude Dies At The End Of The Chapter” – but I do read it.  And if I’m skimming through books at the bookstore, if the prologue’s uninteresting, I won’t get to the first official chapter.

Yet that’s me.  I could be mapping my preferences onto the world at large.

How do you read prologues?

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

This entry has also been posted at You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.
Add to Memories
M left to go back to the city. The Great Gats and little Meow went with her. Gats gets his boy parts removed today. Poor guy. He really is a lovely dog but a little rambunctious for a dog that size. He head butted me the other day by accident and man that hurt. He is still basically a pup though so he will settle.

Cold, raining and windy yesterday but it appears the grey is finally parting– and the green is starting to spread through all that brown pasture. And ninety percent of the snow is gone… just a few patches here and there. We’ll soon shake off the last of this winter.
I made a list today. So hopefully I can check off several things and still have a few hours to write later on.  I had a wonderful time with M but we didn’t get a lot done. J Except yesterday I taught her how to parallel park.  She still needs some practice but she got the gist of it down.
I am a little out of sorts today. I am hoping some outdoor work shakes it from me. Off I go. J
Add to Memories
Some of you who kept up with my Ile-Rien books might remember that there was supposed to be a fourth Giliead and Ilias story, called "Rites of Passage," set after "Holy Places" (which appeared in Black Gate #11 in 2007, and was reprinted in Lightspeed's November ebook issue last year). These were all prequel stories to the Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy. Black Gate acquired "Rites of Passage" but then had to stop doing the print magazine, and long story short, I haven't been able to find another place for it. It's a novelette-length fantasy story, which makes it a bit tricky. So I'm posting it on my web site.

I'm going to post the first section as a teaser under the cut, since it's really too long to post here. Or you can go directly to it: Rites of Passage. And if you want to and can afford to throw something in the donation box after you read it, I'd really appreciate that.

In other news, this week I'm working on the edits for the first two Raksura novellas, "The Tale of Indigo and Cloud" and "The Falling World," which will be published by Night Shade in a paperback collection and individually as ebooks in September. The next two, "The Dead City" and "Novella 4: I don't have a title yet" will be out in Spring 2015. I'm still trying to finish "I don't have a title yet."

first section teaser: Rites of PassageCollapse )

Tags: , ,

Add to Memories

My usual daily quota right now is around 2,000 words. I budgeted zero words on the two driving days up and near-zero words on the three driving days back on this trip. Nor did I expect normal word counts while I’m up here.

Here’s how many words I wrote on each day of the trip, by day:

  1. 0 (as budgeted)
  2. 0 (as budgeted)
  3. 185 (disappointing)
  4. 298 (disappointing)
  5. 1,160 (a fucking miracle, given we found out the house was a writeoff this day)
  6. 343 (a fucking miracle, having gotten access to the house this day)

Overall, still less than I hoped for, but I’m glad I didn’t let life completely kick me in the ass.

Tomorrow is our first day driving back.

I’m really hoping that one of the childhood heirlooms of mine that still hasn’t been produced can be found and obtained before we leave. It’s an absolutely stupid thing of no commercial value, but it’s such a unique memorabilia piece from my life and so appropriate to this trip, I can’t imagine not having it.

It’s from the trip we took to San Clemente Island one year, when the military mixed up the schedule and accidentally authorized us anchorage at Pyramid Cove at the same time they were shelling the island from a destroyer five miles out. They weren’t missing by much, not even when they went ten or fifteen miles out, so we felt pretty safe exploring the island well away from the target range. So we did. I also remember snorkeling through the kelp beds to get bait for fishing.

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

Tags: , ,

Add to Memories

What follows is a post-format storify of my tweets, which are in themselves a follow-up to my previous post on “merit”. The real storify of these tweets is here- with many thanks to Serena @activehearts.

I do not have spoons to elaborate on these tweets, or to cite references. If you want to read good scholarly discussions of this stuff, I recommend “Narrating the Self” by Elinor Ochs and Lisa Capps, and Eve Sweetser and Barbara Dancygier’s works on narrative and cognition, such as their latest Viewpoint in Language.


No storytelling, or its consumption, can be divorced from viewpoint. Viewpoint is an inherent part of human narrative activity.

Narrative theorists argue that narratives more complex than a sentence tend to happen on two planes – that of action & that of consciousness. Viewpoint is cognitively embedded in our narrative activity, both as storytellers and as listeners/readers. If you think you are reading “objectively”, it is highly likely that you are reading from a hegemonic viewpoint, where there is no dissonance between your viewpoint – your plane of consciousness – and that of hegemonic storylines. It is likely that you did not have to question the validity of your viewpoint, and saw it reflected continuously in mainstream narratives. To put it bluntly, if you think you’re objective abt a narrative, your viewpoint is very likely aligned with hegemonic view of what is right – of what constitutes the “right” narrative form and arc, the “right” kind of protagonist, the “right” kind of resolution.

There is no such thing as a viewpoint-less reading of a narrative. But we can be oblivious to our own viewpoints under certain conditions. Those conditions under which you may remain unaware of your own subjectivity are usually conditions of privilege – of hegemonic positioning.

From where I stand, the concept of “objectivity” is not worth bargaining for. It does not give us strong tools to build or analyze narratives. From where I stand, a much better bargain is a better understanding of viewpoint: its psychology, its sociology, its history. Its multiplicity.

A better narrative is a narrative that acknowledges the multiplicity of viewpoints – of cognitive and social positions from which we – narrators of stories, readers, as well as our protagonists – come at our varied and complex understandings of the world, and of relationships. In acknowledging and fronting the multiplicity of viewpoints within accomplished and complex narratives, we do the same in life. Acknowledgment and appreciation of diversity comes from this understanding. It is complex, intricate, and worth working for.

I am leaving comments open for now, but will reevaluate in the morning. Spoons are low to nonexistent. Thank you for understanding.

Originally published at You can comment here or there.


Add to Memories
Facebook interrupts your feed to stick in ads these days. There was a howler from Microsoft. It didn't actually say Windows 8, no doubt because they're embarrassed by it, but they did show an XP desktop and claimed you could keep it all, followed by the hashtag #GoodbyeXP.

As I went to comment, I didn't see a single atta-boy, way to go, Microsoft. No, it was all give me my XP.

Epic. Fail.

With a new Windows PC, keep the Desktop you love and run the Office you know. ‪#‎GoodbyeXP‬

  • Philip Edward Kaldon So, just like Windows XP I can install Office 95 and use Norton Utilities and Special Edition 4.5 in a cmd.exe MS-DOS box and run WordStar 3.30 in the DOS box? I Don't Think So. Microsoft -- you keep forgetting that it's MY machine and I use it to do WORK. You keep putting out crap like Me, Vista and 8 which keep breaking things. You don't get it. Dr. Phil

I keep telling my students I need fifteen minutes in a dead end alley with Bill Gates or his designated Prince, and with an aluminum baseball bat I'll 'splain a few things to them.

Dr. Phil
Add to Memories

Part ninety-six in my comprehensive retrospective as I read the fiction in Realms of Fantasy and offer my thoughts, right up to the final issue.  This time around I’ll take a whack at the October 2010 issue.

It was while this issue was out that I learned from Warren Lapine that the December 2010 issue would be the final issue under Tir Na Nog Press.  Warren had plans to put the magazine up for sale, but being as it had suffered one death already back in 2009, neither Shawna nor myself were expecting much to result from this.  I’ll get into this more with the December 2010 issue, but for now we’ll keep the focus on October.

The cover to this one is a reprint of an illustration by John Jude Palencar.  Two things I’ll always remember when I think of this cover: first is that when I emailed John about acquiring reprint rights of this illustration, he emailed me his phone number so we could talk, and he proved quite generous with his time, far more than you would expect from someone so successful (not to say there aren’t other folks in the industry like this, just that you never expect it). And second, while I’ll refrain from mentioning names, I’ll always remember how a certain literary critic referred to this as a “BDSM cover” when reviewing this issue.  I wonder what s/he would say if s/he were to learn this illustration originally appeared on the cover of a YA novel?  But never mind that: apparently magical tattoos equal kinky sex.  Who knew? J

In the masthead, the only change to report is that the Folkroots editor is no longer listed.  Ari Berk and Kristen McDermott finished their run with the last issue.  I had already hired Theodora Goss to take over the column, but if memory serves correctly, while she was interested, during that time was working on a thesis paper for her PhD.  So our solution was that I would oversee the column on an interim basis, and Theodora would take over with the February 2011 issue.

A number of candidates were considered to take over Folkroots—all of them quite good—but the truth is that when I learned that Ari and Kristen were stepping down, Theodora’s name immediately came to mind as their replacement.  The reasons for this are myriad, and Theodora had enough ties to the magazine on different levels that is actually worth sharing my thinking here.  First, I had known Theodora since we both attended the Odyssey Fantasy and Science Fiction Writing Workshop, all the way back in 2000.  Both of us were newbies to the professional scene at this point, without a writing or editorial credit to our respective names.  This workshop runs six weeks, so during this time I got a pretty good deal for a number of interests, which led me to believe in 2010 she would be an excellent fit for Folkroots.

Of course, this is just the beginning of Dora’s connections to the magazine.  A year later in 2001, she attended the Clarion Writing Workshop.  Shawna McCarthy, the magazine’s longtime and founding editor, was one of the teachers that year, and she actually decided to purchase one of Dora’s workshop stories for the magazine, which resulted in Dora’s first sale. (That story was “The Rose in Twelve Petals” in the April 2002 issue.)  She ended up selling three more stories to us, so in addition to being to her being a known quantity to both Shawna and myself, this also made her a known quantity to the magazine’s readers.  She also wrote a Folkroots article as a guest columnist in an earlier issue, providing further proof she would be a good fit for the position.

And if all this wasn’t enough, she also had a connection to our publisher at the time, Warren Lapine.  When Dora applied for the Odyssey Workshop back in 2000, Warren wrote a recommendation for her, as she had submitted to the magazines at his old DNA Publications several times.  While Warren hadn’t bought anything from her, he was familiar enough with her writing that he was comfortable writing said recommendation.  Put all this together and despite the other excellent candidates Dora and the Folkroots column was clearly a match made in heaven.

Moving on, a rundown of this issue’s nonfiction is as follows:

In the Movie/TV section, Resa Nelson provides a rundown of the fall movies; in the Artists Gallery, Karen Haber covers the work of Tiffany Prothero; in Folkroots, SatyrPhil Brucato writes about the androgyne lover in fantastical fiction; in the Books column, Paul Witcover reviews The Bird of the River by Kage Baker, The Loving Dead by Amelia Beamer, Blood of the Mantis by Adrian Tchaikovsky, The Office of Shadow by Matthew Sturges, and Matt Staggs reviews Pariah by Bob Fingerman, Metrophilias by Brendan Connell, and Our Lady of the Absolute by Resa Nelson; in the Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy books column, Elizabeth Bears reviews Thief Eyes by Janni Lee Simner, Black Blade Blues by J.A. Pitts, White Cat by Holly Black, and Discord’s Apple by Carrie Vaughn; in Young Adult Books, Michael Jones reviews The Boneshaker by Kate Milford, Passing Strange by Daniel Waters, Perchance to Dream by Lisa Mantchev, The Mermaid’s Mirror by L.K. Madigan, and For the Win by Cory Doctorow.

Andrew Wheeler’s Graphic Novel column was moved to the website for this issue, and he reviewed Graphic Classics, Volume 1: Edgar Allen Poe, and Melvin Monster; and in the Games column, Matt Staggs reviews Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! The Shumanti Hills for the iPhone, Contagion Infected Human Zombie Cards, the Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Strategy Guide, and Tony Sims reviews Prince of Persia of Persia: The Forgotten Sands for the Xbox 360, Legio for the PC, and Darkness Within 2:The Dark Lineage for the PC.

This issue also marked the last one for columnists Matt Staggs and Tony Sims.  Matt was with the magazine since the April 2009 issue, a run of eight issues as a book columnist, and a run of seven issues as a gaming columnist.  Tony was with the magazine since the April 2010 issue, a run of four issues.

On to the fiction …

The lead story this issue is “Cutter in the Underverse” by Daniel Hood, which marks his second appearance in the magazine.  This one is an urban fantasy about the Underverse of NYC, a place of memories, ghosts, and monsters.  Detective Cutter is one of the few from the real world that is able to visit the Underverse without complications, but in this story he ends up going there somewhat against his will when someone from the Underverse buys up all his gambling markers in the real world.  The buyer turns out to be the ghost of Arnold Rothstein, a criminal figure out of history best known as the man who fixed the 1919 World Series.  He wants Cutter to do him a favor, but as you might imagine when dealing with such a shady character, all is not as straightforward as it seems.  Art to this one was provided by John Kaiine, which marks his third illustration in the magazine.

Next up we have “Middle” by Eilis O’Neal.  This one feels like magic realism to me, and it deals with the classically neglected middle family, only her family is a bit extraordinary, as her older perfect sister has fallen asleep and won’t wake up while her dreams remain visible in a kind of cloud above her while she sleeps.  Meanwhile, her younger brilliant brother has a pretend llama for a pet that might not be so pretend.  Nothing fantastical seems to be going on with the middle child, which of course would only add to the classic neglect …and also lead to a cry for attention in rather spectacular fashion.  Art to this one was provided by Kurt Huggins and Zelda Devon, which marks their third illustration in the magazine.

Then we have “The Fall of the Moon” by Jay Lake, which marks his tenth appearance in the magazine.  This one is quirky high fantasy tale about a man who builds a boat with the bones of his dead grandfather so he might sail the Sea of Murmurs and live forever.  Along the way, he must overcome obstacles such as monsters, neighbors, and family.  Art to this one was provided by Allen Douglas, which marks his tenth illustration in the magazine.

Next up is “Saint’s-Paw” by Alan Smale, which marks his fifth appearance in the magazine.  This one takes place in a medieval Europe that portrays an adolescent girl on the run after curiosity led to her dissecting her dead father, which in turn led to accusations of witchcraft.  When she takes shelter in a church housing the hand of St. Stephan while fleeing some vengeful soldiers, we learn that the hand is not what—or who—it seems to be.  Art to this one was provided by Alan M. Clark, which marks his third illustration in the magazine.

Finally we have “Halloween: Comprising a Cautionary Acrostic of Nine Bedtime Stories for Reading to the Tiresome or Disobedient Child” by Euan Harvey, which marks his sixth appearance in the magazine.  Euan is also hereby given the unofficial award for longest fiction title to ever appear in the magazine.  Right before the story begins, Euan included the following note: “To Jack Slay, Jr., with respect. (And apologies.)  A quick search online revealed that Jack Slay, Jr. had a story appear in the magazine Cemetery Dance called “Halloween: An Acrostic of Little Horrors.”  So presumably Euan took his inspiration from this story, and perhaps followed a somewhat narrative structure.  As to that structure, it features nine loosely connected flash fiction pieces about kids in the same neighborhood on or around the day of Halloween, with each kid’s name beginning with a different letter from the word Halloween.  (For example, the first flash piece begins with “H is for Hugh …”)  Art to this one was provided by Jill Bauman, which marks her second illustration in the magazine.

So that wraps up this issue.  And my favorite story?  Euan’s Halloween Acrostic tale.  And my favorite artwork?  Jill Bauman’s illustration to the same story.  Next time around I’ll put a cap on the 2010 publishing year, as well as the era of Tir Na Nog as publisher.

Until then …      

Tags: ,

Add to Memories
An ad just popped up on my FB page that says Katie Couric is 86. I want whatever she's using.
Christopher Kastensmidt
User: ckastens
Name: Christopher Kastensmidt
Back October 2011
page summary