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[writing] The state of play, updated once more

After correspondence with my agent yesterday, I can update the state of play on various projects.

Sunspin (four volume space opera): She really likes the revisions to volume one, Calamity of So Long a Life. I need to produce a short marketing-focused synopsis, about ten pages covering all four books, and she has suggested one more line editing pass for dropped words, et cetera. I’m feeling a little glassy-eyed about doing another line edit on the manuscript, but I probably ought to re-read it anyway in preparation for drafting the balance of Their Currents Turn Awry, which is my project for April and May. I only need another 100,000 or so words on that project to call it done in first draft, so it will fit nicely into that schedule. I expect to produce the synopsis over the next few days, and will come to grips with the line editing issue shortly thereafter.

Going to Extremes (nonfiction book about cancer, parenting and Antarctica): She is still reviewing the proposal, but likes it so far. We’re having a somewhat technical conversation now about cross-licensing and subrights and other nonfiction issues which are new territory to me. I won’t be doing any more new writing on this until she has given me full feedback on the proposal and we agree on what more we need to do for the submission package. I do feel some time pressure on this one, simply because of the timing of being able to make an Antarctic trip.

Little Dog (urban fantasy about a werewolf with achondroplastic dwarfism): Once [info]bravado111 and I wrap up the synopsis, which ought to be fairly soon, she will review it, as will his agent. At that point we’ll decide whether it makes more sense to go to market as a proposal, a partial or a full. Collaborator [info]bravado111 and I will be discussing the writing schedule today, actually, and working out between the two of us how to approach that question from our end.

Our Lady of the Islands (independent novel set in the Green universe): She wants to review this one more time, possibly have another revision round, then go to market, but not in the same immediate time as Sunspin. Since Calamity of So Long a Life will probably be going out in the next few weeks if not sooner, this means Our Lady can go out later this spring. Collaborator [info]calendula_witch and I are in agreement on this plan.

Short Fiction: I have now completed all requested short fiction due before the end of the summer. I need to send “The Cancer Catechism” into the requesting market, and later on in the year I have to write a Fathomless Abyss novella and a Cthulhu short. I have tentatively agreed to take on a couple of anthology invitations in June, when I have another month of Doing Miscellaneous Stuff on my writing calendar, but I don’t have guidelines for those yet. If you’re an editor and you’re expecting something from me that you suspect I’ve missed, please let me know.

Cancer: Of course, all of this is subject to change should next month’s re-tests show that my recently detected liver lesion is in fact a fourth round of cancer. I expect Sunspin to go forward mostly unaffected. Likewise Our Lady of the Islands. [info]bravado111 and I need to discuss a fallback plan for Little Dog if I get seriously sidelined, so status unknown there. Ironically, it’s Going to Extremes, the big, ambitious cancer book, that will likely be the most disrupted from a return of the cancer, simply because of timing. If I spend the second half of this year going through another round of chemo, there’s no way on God’s green Earth I’ll be fit to go to Antarctica during the southern summer of 2012/2013. Also, my short fiction and miscellaneous project work will fall off the table complete if cancer returns, as will most or all of my already limited convention and conference schedule.

A lot going on, and I like being this kind of busy. I just hate the uncertainty.

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[writing] Updatery, and a lunch or two

So, been a while since I’ve done much in the way of writing updates.

Today I had a lovely lunch with Tor’s head of publicity, Patty Garcia, and several of my fellow Tor authors: Mary Robinette Kowal, Cherie Priest, Ken Scholes, and David Weber. I’d never met David before, which it was fun to do so (I didn’t do fanboy squee), and it was great to see old friends.

Tomorrow Ken will be bringing the Scholes twins into town. We’re shooting for lunch at the Barley Mill on SE Hawthorne at 11:30 am, with an open table for anyone who wants to drop by. So if you’re in Greater Portlandia and are a friend or fan of either of us, or even just an interested stranger, come on around.

Meanwhile, my esteemed editor at Tor, Beth Meacham, hath blessed the outline for Kalimpura, the third Green book. I need to wrap a Sekrit Projekt on my keyboard right now, pop out another, smaller Sekrit Projekt by early next week, then I’m back to Green and her troubles for a month or two as I draft the novel. calendula_witch, in the mean time, is closing in on a finished manuscript of our collaborative novel, Our Lady of the Islands.

Couple of other interesting items happening, but they haven’t risen to the level of being disclosable yet. Let’s just say I might be branching out a little bit. (No, nothing so amazing as a movie deal, just some nifty print opportunities.)

Now, I write. You writing today?

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[writing|cancer] Brain, brain, what is brain? Revising while on chemo

Just launched into revisions of Endurance with a ninety minute writing session today. I’m exhausted, but that’s pretty much my ground state during chemo, so too bad. My mind was focused enough to deal. But oddly, this was subjectively rather different than revising my collaborative novel with , Our Lady of the Islands, which I’ve been working on for the past two months between medical hijinks.

I don’t know if this is because I’m working on my first draft instead of hers, or because the book is tight first person instead of a looser third person, or because of how the line level style choices I make as a solo author differ from the collaborative voice we’ve developed and been successful at in short fiction. But definitely different.

The biggest issue seems to be word choice. My solo style is wordier and more convoluted than our collaborative style. As noted elsewhere, chemo has not been kind to either my short-term memory or my longer term recall, and one thing I’ve been struggling with is anomia, especially with respect to proper names.

Normally I have an unreasonably large functional vocabulary and can pick words out of the air like a hunter potting birds on the wing. Now I am struggling to distinguish “mete” from “meet” (as in the adjective meaning “proper”), getting “rood” and “veil” confused, forgetting the various terms for grave-houses, and other such idiocies. I know I know it, I can go look up and sort out what’s missing, but it’s slowing me down a bit, and frustrating me. Not going to stop me, not for one damned minute, but grr.

Stoopid cancer.

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[writing] Our Lady of the Islands

Just put a wrap on the second draft of my collaborative novel with , Our Lady of the Islands. We predicted 120,000 words, and this draft is 120,100 words. We bad! And here’s me, revising through surgery and chemo.

Onward to rewriting Endurance, which Tor is expecting from me soon. Luckily, there is a complete first draft.

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[cancer|writing] This is my brain on chemo

Wrote for about 90 minutes today. Which is to say, editorial discussion with about some revision issues in Our Lady of the Islands, then a whole bunch of editing, as well as some incidental research. (Such as learning what a trepang is.)

Had a discussion with Herself on the way home from the airport concerning my current mental deficiencies, courtesy of chemotherapy. Somewhat to my surprise, my reasoning ability seems as strong as ever, or nearly so, as does my creativity. My short-term memory is sucking wind, as is my longer term memory for things which aren’t usually of immediate importance to me — ie, retrieval of obscure details. So I forget to do stuff, and I can’t remember a lot of things that are normally at my mental fingertips.

(And here writing this, I just said to , “It was short-term memory, and what else I can’t do?” Whereupon she laughed at me as she supplied the answer. Sigh.)

Ok, if this pattern holds, I’ll take it. I can make a lot of notes, and look stuff up that I would normally already know. It’s making me a bit crazy, but not nearly so crazy as simply being unable to think would do.

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[cancer] Emerging from the fog

Every day or two I wake up a little more. I’ve cut back considerably on the Dilaudid. This helps immensely. I’ll be back at work part time next week, and full time the week of 12/21, so the opiates need to be gone at least during working hours. On track to do that.

The next event here is the port implant surgery on Wednesday 12/16. That’s day surgery, on an outpatient basis, but it will pretty much soak up the day. After that, everything kind of smooths along until chemotherapy starts on 1/8.

will be here through Friday morning 12/18, will be back that day. We’re off for ‘s birthday party on 12/19, then back to Portland on 12/20. goes home on 12/21, then and I head for California on 12/26. I’ll be there through 1/3, then will be back in Oregon 1/7 for the chemo, as will if her schedule permits.

Still need to get a grip on my mental and emotional state of late. With a few exceptions, I’ve been largely neutral or positive, but only in the last few days have I become even slightly multi-threaded again. Being single-threaded drives me batshit. I feel so limited. I could also stand for the deep freeze weather to be done with, along with the intense and chronic oversleeping the healing process brings.

Life, of course, goes on. Confirmed a couple of fiction sales recently, submitted copy edits executed by on my behalf, working with on the production issues around “The Specific Gravity of Grief”, have some signature sheets to do for Subterranean Press, and yesterday for the first time managed to do some actual writing when I put in an hour and a half of revisions on Our Lady of the Islands.

So coming back to myself. Lots more to say when I get a slightly better handle on it. You guys have been brilliant.

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[personal|cancer] Randomosity

Nice walk up Twin Peaks this morning. I’ll miss it, as I don’t know when I’ll be back in SF in the foreseeable future. I’m likely under a travel restriction through about July, though I may be able to sneak down to California briefly over the holidays.

I’m returning to Portland this afternoon, will be there on Sunday, driving the Witchmobile as she’ll stay for a couple of weeks. is heading to Portland today as well, to be my cancer buddy, and ‘s, through the surgery and the hospitalization following.

Lots of busy coming up, including the Niece’s sixth birthday party on Friday and an early family Thanksgiving on Sunday. This is good, as the surgery is a week from today, and by about Monday I will be an utter wreck.

Had a stray thought while walking about the difference between my business writing (Day Jobbery) and my fiction. Yesterday I executed a quick project, only a few hours, in which I repurposed some existing text from our Web site and from a handful of sales proposals. This is completely normal behavior, because it preserves brand consistency, keeps me on message, and helps the salespeople by offering predictable language they’re already familiar with. I’m not required to be original every time, in fact, quite the opposite. The creativity there comes from figuring out how to meet the requirement in the first place, writing introductory, bridging and concluding text, and generally positioning the whole project. Whereas in my fiction writing, I never deliberately repeat myself. (Well, almost never, but it’s very unusual.) I go to a fair amount of trouble to not repeat other people, though we all do it by accident sometimes.

This may be about as revelatory as noticing the sky is blue, but I’d never thought of things this way before. Ah, brain, I knew there was a reason I take you for walks.

Also, I’ve continued to write through all this. Currently revising ‘s draft of Our Lady of the Islands, a book that continues to be an excellent read.

All in all, my head and heart remain unusually calm these last few days. Let us hope for more of the same.

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[personal] Saturday. What? A day?

Nice dinner last night with and . I made sandwiches by laying down crispy pepper bacon and prosciutto on sliced mini baguettes, then covering the prosciutto with asiago cheese and the bacon with Breemster XO and toasting them. Reassembled with arugula and thin-sliced tomatoes, and served with pickled beets. Mmm. Lots of good conversation and friend time after, but, mmm.

Also managed to get a little over 1,000 words done on the Fermi paradox story last night. The previous two days had been so difficult I’d gotten behind. Planned to be done with this by now, but I’ll finish up the draft this weekend. After that I dive into a close critique of ‘s novel Demonhead, and a revision draft of our joint project, Our Lady of the Islands.

We’re out and about today, preshopping for the WFC cheese party, doing household/couple things, then eventually hitting Borderlands Books and Writers With Drinks this evening in the Mission District. See some, all or none of you there!

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[personal|writing] The joys of getting skunked

and I don’t usually talk about our relationship here in the blogosphere, as such. Mostly such things are of interest primarily to the principals. However, she’s just sold a story, “The Hippie Monster of Eel River”, to the Apex Book Company’s Close Encounters of the Urban Kind anthology, edited by .

Thing is, I got rejected from that anthology. Now, I don’t generally blog about rejections, other than to occasionally note their accumulation. And I still get rejected roughly three times for every sale I make. (Though that statistic decomposes in a more complex fashion than is intuitively obvious — the current terrain of my writing career is a topic for another time.)

But here is an intersection. We are two writers in a passionate relationship, working together (“Rolling Steel“, Our Lady of the Islands, etc.) as well as separately. And my career is far longer established than hers, by simple dint of publication history.

So for to skunk me at a market is a milestone, one which I think deserves to be celebrated. It’s a reminder to both of us of something we already believe down to our bones — that we are equals, partners, working on a par. It’s exciting for me to see her succeed outside of the context of our joint work, and it’s important for her. Best of all, it’s a solid external validation of a truth we’ve long held between us.

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[personal] Miscellany, writing and politics

Walked this morning here in Omaha. The fireflies are gone, and I never heard the distinctive, echoing peep of the nighthawks, but I did see the usual rabbits, along with an amiable skunk, as well as finally spotting the owl that patrols the stretch of Papillion Creek where I walk. She was sitting atop a power pole, visible only as a shape in the glow from some distant street lights. Still, I’ve been hearing her for months — sometimes I think she paces me — and it was nice to say hello.

Brad R. Torgersen rightly points out that I’ve been getting positively ranty about politics lately. I’ve still got a lot to say, this healthcare reform debate has really touched some nerves for me — both personally as a cancer survivor who has to cope with pre-existing condition limitations and the likely financial ruin when I reach my lifetime maximum coverage limits; and as a liberal-progressive with strong convictions about the obligations of a wealthy society such as ours to its members regardless of their financial or social status. To say the least, I find currently articulated conservative viewpoints on these issues notably lacking in facts, common sense or compassion. But I think I’ll lay off it for a while. At least a few days. I’m a writer who blogs about politics, not a political blogger. Thanks for the reminder, Brad.

On the writing front, I continue to bang out stories, but I’m about to shift gears to a book-length Sekrit Projekt in collaboration with a Sekrit Collaborator. It’s cool, I don’t know yet if it will pay off as this is a new direction for me, but we’ll see. Thinking about that led me to think about my writing plans over the next few years. Spent some time last night discussing this with and , to the point where they were laughing at me about the degree to which I was looking into the future. For example, the Tor contract I just signed has deliverables due in the spring of 2011, and the final edition in the contract won’t be out til the spring of 2013. That’s a four year cycle.

Roughly speaking, here’s what I think is going to happen:

August-October, 2009 Sekrit Projekt
October-December, 2009 Revise Our Lady of the Islands with
January-February, 2010 Revise Endurance
March-April, 2010 Draft Kalimpura (Green book 3)
May-June, 2010 Do something else (possibly revive dormant YA novel project)
July-December, 2010 Draft Sunspin (high concept space opera trilogy)
January-February, 2011 Revise Kalimpura
March-May, 2011 Revise Sunspin
June-December, 2011 Draft Original Destiny, Manifest Sin

All of that, of course, interspersed with copy edits, galleys, short fiction, commissioned work, possible novel projects that someone might throw money at me to do quickly, etc. In other words, very much subject to change without notice, most likely through date slippage. Of the above, only Endurance and Kalimpura are contracted, so everything else can flex as opportunity and inspiration permit.

Watch this space for more details.

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