I’ve been pretty quiet on social media this week due to my day-job. I’ve been working on a rather large presentation, and I had the gentleman due to give that presentation in my office this week to help me hash out the content.
Now, collaboration isn’t something I’ve done much of in my career. As a journalist, it was pretty much all on me when it came to researching and writing articles; those few times I’ve worked with other reporters, it was to divide-and-conquer the phone calls and research, then one of us would sit down and pound out the words.
And in my current role in corporate communications, it’s still been me sitting down and writing. Now, I’ve had a lot more folks with input — both before and after the creative process — but rarely during. Usually, there just isn’t the time or the resources to really dive deep into the words with someone.
This project is different, because it’s a really-big-deal presentation. Continue reading
Imagine you lost your child, your spouse and your parents in the span of a few short years. You also inherited a massive fortune as a result. What would you do? How would you avoid sinking into a spiral of depression?
On top of all that, what if you thought you were cursed, haunted by all the people who died in the course of creating that family wealth?
Sarah Winchester was the heiress to the Winchester firearms fortune, and faced exactly that. Her response was…unique, shall we say.
The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, Calif., started out as a simple1860s farmhouse, purchased by Sarah in 1884. She began renovating – and renovating some more. When she died in 1922 and construction finally ceased, there were 160 rooms, including 40 bedrooms, two ballrooms, 47 fireplaces, 17 chimneys, two basements and three elevators.
Plus, the architecture is haphazard at best. There are skylights in floors, staircases that go nowhere, cabinet doors that open onto bare walls, windows that were built over so they don’t allow in any light or air…it’s a crazy quilt of crazy.
There’s a brand new excerpt of The Enceladus Crisis up on io9.com today! The scene in question depicts the battle that’s pictured on the cover of the book itself, and it’s something that’s not part of the ebook previews or anything else. So really, you should go read it now.
Of course, if you like all things SF/F, you’re already reading io9, because it’s intensely awesome. Right? Of course you are. Many thanks to Charlie Jane Anders and the io9 team for making this excerpt happen. Go check it out!
Also today, Tor.com reviewed Enceladus. While reviewer Stefan Raets took issue with the book’s multiple plotlines, he nonetheless had nice things to say as well. To wit:
Even though it has some issues, The Enceladus Crisis is worth checking out, especially if you enjoyed The Daedalus Incident. After all, there aren’t many books out there that manage to move, in just a few pages, from explaining the ultra-dense polymers used in radiation shielding to magic and alchemy.The Enceladus Crisis also sets everything up for a third novel that promises to be spectacular…
I thought the review was quite fair, and Stefan did his usual thoughtful, thorough job. (Of course, I liked that last bit the best.) I’m continuing to work through The Venusian Gambit, the third and final book in the Daedalus series, and I hope it lives up to that promise.
Finally, I joined a SF Signal “Mind Meld” with a bunch of other fantastic authors and commentators on the SF/F books we love to read over and over again. The topic actually made me think a little bit about how my reading habits have changed since becoming an author, and I hope my contribution to the Meld was worthwhile. My thanks to Paul “Prince Jvstin” Weimer for inviting me.
As I mentioned earlier this week, I’m in Iceland while my wife Kate attends the Iceland Writers Retreat. The retreat organizers were kind enough to include partners and kids in their more social activities and tours. Even though I’m not participating in the retreat’s workshops, I’ve found plenty of Icelandic fuel for my writer-mind.
A very old book in the library of Iceland’s presidential residence.
The Icelandic people are immensely proud of their literary heritage, and rightly so. They were the scribes of the Viking Age, committing the Sagas to print and providing a written history and folklore of the Scandinavian peoples. Icelandic, while today spoken by just 330,000 souls, give or take, is considered the language most like that of the old Vikings. (Geographic isolation will do that.)
If you’ve taken a peek at my Twitter account over the past day or so, you might have noticed I’ve been slightly out of pocket. In fact, I’m in Iceland. And until perhaps six months ago, I never actually thought I’d write “I’m in Iceland” and mean it. But I’m here, and I’m stoked about it.
Here’s the deal. My enterprising, talented, travel-writer wife Kate is participating in the Iceland Writers Retreat this week. Check out the link, because it’s very cool. In addition to her communications business and her travel writing, Kate’s working on her own fiction as well. So she wanted to come and get a good dose of writer-time.
And so we turned it into a family trip. My daughter and I get to participate in the Retreat’s fun stuff, like tours and receptions. And when Kate’s in class, the kid and I get to explore.
I’ve done a fair number of guest posts on various blogs in support of The Daedalus Incident and, of late, The Gravity of the Affair. I’ve enjoyed writing them, too. But my hat’s off to Shaun and Jen over at Skiffy and Fanty for coming up with a great theme for their guest posts: My Superpower.
So today I’m talking about my very own superpower at Skiffy and Fanty — my super-powered burrowing writer-mind! What does that mean? Well, in short, I can get into “the zone” pretty quickly when it comes to writing. Great for grabbing an hour, burrowing in and getting the words out.
There’s more to it, of course, including a notable drawback to being so single-minded and focused. Want to know more? Check out the post!
There’s a binder stuck in a drawer with the first draft of what would ultimately become The Daedalus Incident. It’s covered in red copyedit marks and is altogether not-good. But I’m keeping it. And more importantly, I’ve kept every draft of everything I’ve written.
Why? Because even if the overall draft is bad, there may be parts in it that are good. I know this seems like common sense, but I think it’s worth mentioning.
There was a whole sequence of events in The Enceladus Crisis that ultimately didn’t work. The pacing was off, the timing was wrong, the characters just weren’t ready to go do what they were doing. But I knew there would be a time within the narrative where all that hard work, primarily in worldbuilding and plot, would be necessary. So I slapped it in another file and kept going.
And when I reached the point in the draft where that worldbuilding and plot came to the fore, I gleefully cannibalized that older version to suit my needs.
There’s a couple of scenes in the early Daedalus drafts that I’m keeping handy, just for that purpose. It’s highly unlikely they’ll be dropped straight into a future work, but there are writing lessons in there, and some ideas that may yet be used.
The point is, don’t overwrite your old files. Save them and store them. It’s not like Word (or Scrivener) files are that big, after all.
They say “kill your darlings,” and at times, that’s exactly the right thing to do. But be sure to keep the bodies handy. You never know.
Sorry, gang — no new fiction this week because, well, The Gravity of the Affair wrapped up in 12 installments. If you missed it, click on the title and see what all the fuss was about, because it won’t be up on here forever. The novella is also a great primer for some of what you’ll find in The Daedalus Incident, which is coming in print and audiobook in just two weeks. (It’s already available on Kindle, Nook and Kobo, by the way.)
The Gravity novella does a great job of introducing the whole notion of sailing ships in space, one of two settings in The Daedalus Incident. The other setting is a 22nd century Martian mining colony, which prompted a lot of thought and writer-mind imagining about what our technology might look like in a century.
That kind of technological prognostication wasn’t easy. In fact, if you and I are still around in a century (hey, you never know), I imagine we’d find that the book was wrong on a lot of fronts. Technology often evolves in ways we can’t imagine — and we evolve right around with it. Just look at this article, in which desktop computer makers bemoan the growth of tablet computing and struggle to keep up with changing times.
My wife Kate and I had the chance to take a few days off on our own in the wilds of the Adirondacks and Vermont. We were, of course, grateful for the fact that we weren’t home; the weather was, by all accounts, unbearably hot. But it was still pretty warm up north, so while our mornings were fun and active (canoeing and bike riding), our afternoons were spent writing.
And man, more than 12,000 words later, I totally get that writing retreat thing.
Not that I didn’t really get it before, but I’ve always been of a mind to write whenever and however I can. An hour here, a half-hour there. It does add up. But such stretches of unscheduled time…it’s kind of amazing what you can do. We didn’t really plan it as a writing retreat, per se; it was merely one of many pleasant outcomes of the trip. We both got a lot accomplished, and still felt wholly relaxed and rejuvenated.
I’m still going to stick to my guns when it comes to writing time. Just write — whenever, however, and for however long you can. But if you can indeed carve out time in a big way, it seriously rocks.
I know, seems like a no-brainer. Maybe I’m just slow.
Anyway, here’s a few book-related tidbits for you:
I’ve lived in New Jersey for more than nine years now, and you’d think I’d have gone to Atlantic City before today. But thanks to the World Championship of Sand Sculpting, that omission has been rectified.
Why yes, there IS a World Championship of Sand Sculpting. And to be completely fair, there was some impressive work on display. It made the sand castle Anna and I made on the beach later seem rather…lacking…by comparison, even though we had a moat, dammit. A moat!
Atlantic City fascinated my writer-mind, much as our visit to Japan did a few months back. (For another perspective on that trip, check out my wife’s Lonely Planet piece on animal cafes! Being married to a travel writer has its privileges.) Anyway, it wasn’t that Atlantic City was all that alien — though it did have its moments. Rather, it was chock full of those little details that I know I’m going to end up using, in spirit if not in literal fact, in my fiction.
For example: Continue reading