Friday night was the presentation of the Campbell Award for best new novel and the Sturgeon Award for best new short fiction of the year. They were presented in Lawrence, Kansas as part of the Campbell Conference and the SFRA (Science Fiction Research Association) conference. David Moles won the Sturgeon Award for his story “Finisterra,” as well as Elizabeth Bear for her story “Tidelines”
The Campbell Award gave third place to Ken MacLeod for his book, The Execution Channel. Second place went to Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Ball, and the winner was Kathleen Ann Goonan for her novel, In War Times.
Saturday continued the conference with a SF book sale at the KU library, and readings and signings at the Oread bookstore. Readers included David Moles, Kij Johnson, Frederik Pohl, Robin Wayne Bailey, Karen Joy Fowler, James Van Pelt and Kathleen Ann Goonan. Fred Pohl, the last of the Futurists (which included Kornbluth, Clarke, Asimov, Heinlein and others) claims that he will no longer write a collaboration with another author because they end up dying. He finished a book with Arthur C. Clarke but Clarke died before the last fifty pages. The book, The Last Theorem, will be released within the next few months. Pohl is quite a funny guy and it was a delight to hear him read, as well as the other authors.
The conference ended the novel writing workshop. Saturday night, we had a party as our last goodbye to each other. it was a good workshop and some really great people. I’m excited to start working, really working on my novel and restructuring it. Maybe I can get it done this year.
James Van Pelt said some interesting things about writing regularly. He once kept trying for 1000 words a day but couldn’t always manage it so then he’d fall behind and not write for days on end. Stephen King and other writers might do 1000 words a day or more but they don’t always have other jobs. Pelt realized that the 1000 words was the barrier and sat down with what he’d be happy writing in a year and then divided it by the number of days. He realized that he only needed 200 words a day. That breaks down to less than a page and even if tired or too busy, a very doable number. It increased his output and he’s never missed writing a day since.
I think I’ll be trying that and tonight I sat down to look at a story I wrote recently. Using some of the new depths to writing I learned these past two weeks, I rewrote it and added a thousand words. I’ll try writing at least 200 words on fiction every day.
I can now say which stories I’ve accepted so far for Aberrant Dreams, in fantasy. The contracts will be going out as soon as I get back from the workshop in a week. http://www.hd-image.com/stories.htm
I still won’t know when they will be up but here they are:
- Kiss of the Blood Red Pomegranate by Kristin Janz
- A Taste of Nettles by Katie Howenstine
- The Girl Who Swallowed the Sky by Jacqueline Bowen
- Year of the Mountain Lion by Maria Schneider
- Helkappe by Claire Cooney
Kiss and Helkappe are underworld stories. They are all strong in imagery and original plots, presenting an alieness or a humanness that is intriguing. We’re slowly catching up and I know there are others that have had longer waits. Joe has put some books to bed that he’s publishing so we should see things moving faster.
The Lawrence, Kansas workshop is half over and maybe it’s time to talk of the town. Lawrence is small, maybe 80,000 people before the students arrive in the fall for KU. There is one main street with stores and a few side streets. The box stores are farther out but they have a bit of everything. It’s quaint, it’s easy going and there is hardly any traffic. I love that aspect.
It does get blistering hot with high humidity (at least today-we’ve been luck) and it gets winters and tornadoes. It could be too small too. But it’s a nice place to visit. We walked to town yesterday and got to take a closer look at the sandstone(?) buildings on campus. They date to the turn of the century (1900) and are of a light brown stone. They look so clean and light, unlike similar buildings I’ve seen elsewhere. I don’t know if this is because there is less pollution here, the tornadoes scour them (unlikely) or because they scour them. A few buildings are in a deep red brick. The Natural History Museum is nicely done with carvings and gargoyles, and “Darwin” carved below one window and “Huxley” below the other.
There are a number of houses that date to the early 1900s, some earlier. A few are in brick but many of wood with the gingerbread finishings on them. There are a few cobblestone streets of rectangular red bricks, much like the few streets that still exist in Vancouver. And there are many fairly unremarkable homes. The shops offer quite a range of latest fashions.
I don’t know if I could live in a town this small over all but it is certainly appealing and the smog is low level. It’s definitely tempting.
Tomorrow (today) we go over the last of nine novels, which means three chapters and the outline. The writing is of a pretty good caliber in all of these and all of them need work. Kij is amazingly astute and finding what’s not working and at defining structure.
There has been quite a range in the ideas from humorous space opera to medieval fantasy to alternate histories. I hadn’t worked on the novel for ten years and knew I had huge expository lumps. But I was getting mired. I had to build a complete world, including geography, races, culture, religion and rulers. No small feat and it’s still evolving. I was told to get rid of the first two chapters and simplify the information. I also had to drop the meddling gods back.
The more I thought about it, the more relieved I was. I have so much information to impart and I was getting mired. After we went for BBQ (where the food was okay and the waiting staff terrible) at the Vermont, I think, we went back to the dorms. Most nights people sit around and talk and write, to varying degrees. There’s a quiet room if you don’t want to be bothered by the chatter. I was working on my outline and chatting with Eric Warren from the short fiction workshop.
He had sat in one day on our workshop and had read the two novel bits so he could see how the process went. It’s not round table like Clarion and is a more gentle, more brainstorming style which I quite like and find useful, not to mention you learn from the other people’s novels too. We ended up discussing my novel and it was really useful. Eric gave me a very cool idea for the second novel and I got to bounce my changes off of him.
What this outline has given me that the first didn’t is a jumping point to a second novel. I had only thought in the vague terms of “there will be one” before this. Kij has made me cut down to three viewpoint characters. Because of the races and plot, I can’t really go to fewer. But this leaves room for different character viewpoints in the second novel. One rule was that two of the three problems must be solved by the end of the novel. I’ve done this (at least in the outline), and leaving one unsolved problem leaves room for that problem to flow into the next novel and for joining them.
The outline gets turned in next week and taken through the process. I think it is stronger and kind of exciting. I also wrote up story arcs for each of the four characters, which definitely helps in plotting the outlines. I hope to have most of the outline done by tomorrow.
I received my cheque from Shroud magazine this week for my story “Amuse-Bouche,” which means it should be out soon. http://www.shroudmagazine.com/index.html
My cheque also arrived for my story “Strict Management” out in the Cleis Press erotic anthology Open for Business, and the books arrived today. http://www.cleispress.com/index.php
And I also received word today that Maxim Jakubowski has accepted my story “Stocking Stuffers” originally printed in the Cleis Press anthology Naughty or Nice, for the Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica 8to be published in 2009.
Other than that, writing beyond this blog is on hold. For the CSSF novel workshop in Kansas I have had eight other people’s partial novels to read (up to about 50 pages) and critique. I have one and a half more to do and I leave on Friday. http://www2.ku.edu/~sfcenter/campbell-conference.htm The workshop begins next Monday in Lawrence.
The stories cover a wide range with a medieval epic fantasy, an uplift style SF space race story, two near future SF stories with altered humans (but by very different means and reasons), a world with specially empowered people and angels, an alternate history with Hitler, a magical mystery PI story, and a clairvoyant conspiracy with a mystery. My story falls into a pre-industrial medieval fantasy but on a different world with different species and gods. Overall, we have quite a range and everyone’s story is very intriguing so far.
I’m looking forward to my two weeks of being immersed in the creative medium, which ends with the Campbell Conference.
Right now I’m more in reading than writing mode. I’ve accepted another story for Aberrant Dreams, with a few in the queue. And my friend Sandra Kasturi was in swamped mode, probably moving closer to swamp thing. After all, she runs Kelp Queen Press http://www.kelpqueenpress.com/ but she also is poetry editor for Chizine http://chizine.com/, is working on an animation plus other projects.
I had a few poems in submission for a while at Chi when she mentioned she was way behind because of several projects. I told her to get some slush pile readers because they’re all the rave and everyone has one. Perhaps I should have been quieter because she came back to me and another person and asked if we would be her readers for poetry. So there goes another editorial hat to wear.
That’s not started yet but mostly I’m reading the first three chapters of eight novels in preparation for the novel writing workshop I’ll be doing in Kansas. That’s at the university in Lawrence and is part of the Center for the Study of Science Fiction. http://www2.ku.edu/~sfcenter/novel-workshop.htm Two weeks in July, novel bashing and brainstorming. I have to write a critique for each novel and outline. I’m hoping to do one a day. This does mean that although I’ll be posting here, my blogs will probably concentrate on writing and workshopping for the two weeks, but maybe not.
The other writing projects: the Berchta tale, the barge people, the co-written one with Rhea and the monkey girl story (including the three stories near completion) are on hold though I may take a few of these with me for when I’m sick of looking at my novel.
I applied for two grants through the BC Arts Council and the Canada Council. Yesterday I received word from BC Arts that the grants have been delayed so I won’t find out till after the fact. I’m expecting Canada Council to take longer. So, even though I’m going to the workshop I may have no money. Say hello to Mr. Plastic.
Writer Beware: In the past couple of days a writing contest was listed on Craigslist, stating that SFWA was holding a contest. For a $10 entry fee you send in your story and winners and honorable mentions will be published by a big name publisher. The anthology is titled Asimovs of the Future. However, this is a fake contest. SFWA has issued a statement saying they have nothing to do with it and that someone is trying to bilk writers of their money.