[food|publishing] The archive party
Yesterday we had an archive party. Friends came over to help prep and box the bulk of my paper archives for Lynne Thomas, the curator of Rare Books and Special Collections at Northern Illinois University. This seemed like a good time for food, as well.
Lisa Costello was here, along with Jersey Girl in Portland. Team E— came, as did two other friends. (the_child was off seeing Swan Lake with her mother.) Jersey Girl made bacon explosion, which we supplemented with a cheese board, a salad, and brownies thoughtfully supplied by the_child.
The base of the bacon explosion
Putting down the sausage layer
The complete bacon-sausage roll
The foil comes off before the bacon is finished out
After we ate all that, we played Cards Against Humanity for the better part of an hour, then headed down to the basement for the packing, measuring and weighing.
Packing the archives
We packed, measured and weighed 311 pounds of material to be shipped. As someone pointed out, I got started on my career before most of the editorial side of publishing went digital. I had a footlocker full of rejection letters, and boxes of critiqued and copy edited manuscripts. If I were to get started on a career today, about the only paper ephemera that would exist would be contracts, and even many of those are electronic.
To that end, I am also providing Lynne and NIU with the electronic side of my files. That, however, fits on a portable USB hard drive about the size of a deck of cards. Ah, progress.
At any rate, it’s good to be fully engaged with Lynne and NIU. It’s good to have those eleven boxes out of the house (and my footlocker emptied). It’s good to have taken care of one more darned thing as I journey further along the arc of my cancer.
Photos © 2013, Lisa Costello and Joseph E. Lake, Jr.
This work by Lisa Costello and Joseph E. Lake, Jr. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Posted: 6:04 am Mon February 18 2013 | Comments(5) |
[publishing] More conversations with a copy editor
A while back, I had some interesting email exchanges with Anne Zanoni, the copy editor who worked on my single-title novella Love in the Time of Metal and Flesh for publisher Prime Books. (The book is due for release in July.)
Love in the Time of Metal and Flesh is a difficult piece. It’s about cutting, and extreme body modification, and an underground scene bordering on the criminal which leverages those kinks. In my view, the story is a Bildungsroman of sorts, about someone who is and remains profoundly innocent in a spiritual and social sense even amid extremes of sexuality and society. My goal when writing it had been to make the protagonist as genuine as I could, to be true to his internal perspective as a cutter and a body modifier. Not to sensationalize or moralize, but simply see the world from his perspective. I had a friend who is a cutter read an early draft, to try to make sure I wasn’t skewing the voice with my own heterornomativity and relative lack of kink.
In other words, I was working very hard at writing the Other.
Quoting with permission, here’s what Anne wrote to me and to publisher Sean Wallace:
This was the hardest story I ever worked on, novel, novella, or short fiction.
Going by the length, it shouldn’t have been. I expected to get done a lot sooner than I did. Then I read it.
The reason it was so hard is because of the subject matter.
Jay, thank you for being such a great writer. If you hadn’t been, if I’d had lots of writing problems to deal with, then this would have been much harder on me.
I read lots of dark fiction, and I work on it too — like the novels for Angry Robot. This story was more sick to me than “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” melded with a lot of other squicky things. It hit many of my squick buttons (except for inside the organs, those sections were pretty neat).
So, just thought I’d tell you both that.
After I did the first pass, I kept having to force myself back to work. I work on projects that I like and those that I don’t like, and some projects are a lot of stress and ones aren’t; and they’re all work. Some are more fun than others.
This isn’t a complaint. It was a learning experience. I’ve had fiction that I loved working on and which required more concentration because it was such fun.
I’m not sure if completely repelling the copy editor is a milestone or not, but it’s certainly new in my experience.
I never expected to find a story that I wanted to scrub from my brain every time I walked away from my work. And I wanted to run away, actually.
I was fascinated by this. My story had reached her, almost exactly in the way I intended. I replied to Anne:
Thank you. I think.
I’ll take that as a comment on the quality of the writing rather than a comment on the quality of my character.
=grins= I suspect that almost breaking your copy editor ranks somewhere up there with distracting her so much she can’t work.
If I could make every cutter read your story, I would. Possibly runaways also.
Sometimes you reach people despite their professional filters. I have no idea how this story will be received critically or by the general audience. Given some of the reactions to my piece “The Goat Cutter”, I’m actually a bit nervous. But it’s the story I wanted to tell, told in the fashion I wanted to tell it.
So, thank you Anne.
Posted: 9:18 am Sun January 13 2013 | Comments(4) |
[publishing|cancer] Some good news, and some career thoughts
First of all, my recent Asimov’s steampunk lost colony religious novella, “The Stars Do Not Lie”, has been acquired by Gardner Dozois for next year’s edition of Year’s Best Science Fiction. I am quite pleased, and also more than slightly boggled to be included at novella length. I’m pretty familiar with word count budgets in anthologies, after all.
This is a small glimmer of good news in what has otherwise been a discouraging couple of years for me in my career. Cancer and its discontents have cut my overall productivity by at least half. My mortality odds combined with my treatment paths mean I’ll likely not write very many more books in my lifetime — two if I’m a little lucky, maybe a few more if I’m a lot lucky. Even short fiction is a real challenge. I expect to be able to finish “Rock of Ages”, my METAtropolis: Green Space novella, before my brain fries out completely, but I won’t likely write any more new fiction before June of next year.
All of this means the Sunspin project is two years behind schedule. It means due to productivity issues and a lack of ability to respond to market requirements, I’ll be pretty much losing my shelf space in the Tor stable after Kalimpura is published. It means my short fiction output has tumbled to handful of stories a year. It probably means my career is never really going to come back, unless we beat some serious odds and put this cancer down and I have some years of run room to build back up to my old pace of writing.
At the same time, my social and public role in the field continues to diminish. I’m not at World Fantasy Convention right now due to chemotherapy. I won’t make any convention or public appearances between now and Memorial Day of 2013 at the earliest. Depending on how quickly and vigorously my cancer comes back after this round, my window for future appearances may be slim to none.
I’ve said off and on having cancer is like dying by degrees. The disease drives everyone around me to distraction, desperation and beyond. It saps my energy, my time, my parenting, my writing, my ability to love and live. It’s eroded everything from my publishing career to my sexuality.
Loss. So much of my life is loss.
Yet still I write. Still I celebrate my successes, such as this YBSF nod. Still I plan future projects and seek creative ways (such as collaboration) to get existing projects to market. Because as sad and dire as this all makes me feel, I don’t give up.
I just wish I didn’t have to fight so hard to retain less and less every year.
Posted: 5:57 am Fri November 02 2012 | Comments(8) |
[publishing] The Fathomless Abyss
So I’m part of this shared world project being run by Phil Athans and Mel Odom. It’s called The Fathomless Abyss, and is a pretty neat little deal. Lots of details on the world and the publishing concept here at Phil’s blog. We’ve got a pretty cool bunch of contributors, including Philip Athans, J. M. McDermott, Mel Odom, Cat Rambo, Mike Resnick, Brad Torgersen and of course, me. My story in the initial release is “That Which Rises Ever Upward”, and deals with grand ambition among people with limited means.
In the spring, we’ll be releasing a series of novellas set within the shared world, one by each contributing author. I haven’t written mine yet, but inspiration will surely strike.
Cover art © 2011 by Matts Minnhagen is pretty nice, too.
Watch for a December release, just in time for your holiday reading needs.
Posted: 6:43 am Wed November 30 2011 | Comments(0) |
[publishing] Out of contract blues
Now I’m going to complain about something that will probably irk some of the aspiring writers who read this blog. It’s one of those established writer problems that can look ridiculous from the outside, but is perfectly real and serious from the inside.
I’m out of a trade publishing contract for the first time since 2006. And it feels very weird to me.
Mainspring was originally contracted by Tor in 2006 for a 2007 release, along with a second book to be named later, which was eventually Escapement. Near the end of that contract cycle, Green and Pinion were contracted. Near the end of that contract cycle, Endurance and Kalimpura were contracted.
Well, now it’s 2011 and I’ve delivered Kalimpura for 2012 publication and, well, here we are. It’s not that Tor and I have parted ways. It’s not that we haven’t parted ways. We simply haven’t had the discussions, nor have I entered into discussions with any other trade publishers.
Some of this is my own doing, as I decided to write the Sunspin series as spec books rather than proposing them to Tor. Some of this is the cancer, which has stolen half my writing time in past two years, slowing down my ability to deliver a spec book in time to propose it to Tor, or anyone else, within my usual contract cycle. Longtime readers may recall that had I not experienced another metastasis this year, I had planned to write all three volumes of Sunspin by this fall. The book package would have been ready to go to market last summer, except for cancer.
And now, thanks to the travails of chemo and my resulting inability to execute on important revisions recommended by la agente, Sunspin‘s first volume won’t be ready to go to market before next February or March at the earliest. So I’m going to stay out of contract for quite some time to come, unless we take the rather unusual step of trying to sell on proposal plus unrevised draft.
All of which makes me feel very weird and insecure about my career. I’m in danger of missing the 2013 publishing cycle. I’m going to take a financial hit, to boot, simply because of delayed contract and payment timelines. But mostly, I worry about simply disappearing from view.
So I’ve got the out of contract blues, magnified by my cancer woes. And it doesn’t make me very happy. Another penalty of cancer, another thing being taken from me by this disease.
Posted: 5:53 am Thu October 27 2011 | Comments(2) |
[publishing] Strange Horizons fund drive
Signal boost, and, well, because they’re worth it
Long-time online magazine Strange Horizons is having their annual fund drive once more. They’ve always relied on crowdfunding to pay pro rates, and have become a leading market for both aspiring writers and established pros. Click on over drop ‘em a dime if you got one.
Also, I’ve donated a prize, as have many other folks. So there’s some fun and cool stuff waiting for you once you’ve donated.
Posted: 5:28 am Mon September 26 2011 | Comments(0) |
[publishing] R.I.P. Marty Greenberg
Various sources report that editor Martin H. Greenberg passed away yesterday, roughly while the Locus Awards were going on. He published me a lot, and has been a great influence on the life of anthologies in our field.
Rest in peace, Marty.
Posted: 4:45 am Sun June 26 2011 | Comments(0) |
[personal|publishing] Things are good some days
Interesting day yesterday in my publishing life. Almost none of which I can actually announce yet.
- Got some good news about one of my books.
- Finished and submitted Sekrit Projekt
- Revised and submitted two short stories
- Received same-day acceptances on the Sekrit Projekt as well as both short stories
Plus the usual array of Day Jobbery, Dad stuff and ongoing personal life.
Also, the_child said to me at one point yesterday, “If you went back in time and became a seventh grader, I’d totally date you.”
I took that as the compliment she intended it to be, and majestically ignored the various other assorted ramifications of that statement. She’s singing in The Magic Flute this Thursday and Friday, and is acquiring theatre quirks.
Posted: 5:51 am Tue April 12 2011 | Comments(4) |
[books|publishing] Tales for Canterbury
New Zealand’s Christchurch experienced a debilitating earthquake on February 22, 2011. Since then, editors Cassie Hart and Anna Caro have done an amazing job of pulling together Tales for Canterbury, a fundraising anthology to benefit the victims of the earthquake, with all proceeds going to the New Zealand Red Cross Earthquake Appeal.
The line up contains a variety of authors and a fantastic blend of stories, all of which focus primarily on the themes of survival and hope. Authors include Brenda Cooper, Neil Gaiman, Gwyneth Jones, Jeff Vandermeer, Sean Williams, and me, among others. Here’s the full list of contributors.
Tales for Canterbury is now available for pre-order as an ebook (in pdf, mobi, and epub format) and as a paperback. It should be published in April, so you won’t have long to wait for it. For more information, see the anthology’s blog.
Posted: 5:32 am Thu March 24 2011 | Comments(2) |
[personal|publishing] Updatery of this and that
Walked this morning, as the weather was up in the high 20s. An old moon rode low in the eastern sky, accompanied by Venus looking particularly bright. Rabbits rustled among the frozen leaves along the Papillion Creek Trail. I did not see my breath, but I felt it.
In other news, I am flying home tomorrow. I shall see both the_child and calendula_witch, which will make the day a very good one, indeed.
In other other news, various publishing-related events have occurred this week, almost none of which I am quite prepared to discuss in detail yet. Let’s just say some foreign rights were involved, as well as two short fiction acceptances, and firmer news of a small press book contract. All will be announced in due time. Also, sadly a Sekrit Projekt about which I was excited has gone to the Great Sekrit Projekt Outbox in the Sky, so that will never be announced. Luckily, there’s always more to do.
Sold anything lately?
Posted: 6:17 am Thu December 02 2010 | Comments(3) |
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