Every once in a while, those pursuing the arts feel down. You work hard, and you feel like you’re getting no where. You really are, of course. There are acceptances, rather than just rejections. The rejection letters get personal, with invites to send more. You can look at old work and see ways to improve it. You’re actually getting somewhere, but it’s slow going.

Right now, I’ve pulled a story back into the shop. I haven’t seen this story in about a year and a half, and I can see ways in which I can buff up the shine and do a little detail work. The interior of this story, though is pretty sound, so after I’ve buffed, out it goes. Once more unto the breach.

I usually talk myself around into the spirit of “Go get ’em, tiger! They don’t know what they’re missing! Keep at it!”

But, you know, one does get tired. So, today, I’m going to allow a little demoralization, more than the usual 15 minutes. And then tonight, I’ll go home, finish up that story, and send it back out, and maybe start on something that is light and fun.

This is no way to get a Lost in Space Robot. Come on, universe. Work with me here.


Writing Year in Review So Far

We pause to do a little planning.

It’s August! School starts next week, and I’m actually looking forward to it, because it means more writing time. That’s right…more. Up through Friday, my days at work are 8 am – 4 pm solid. Since I went back to work in July, I’ve been trying to get my writing in during the evenings, with limited success. This, coupled with a busy July, are the reasons I’m behind on my expertise hours. Not REALLY behind. It’s a matter of 8 hours or so, which I should be able to make up with a few extra hours once I get that time I have built into the semester to write.

What have I done this year? Successes?

Crystal Vision has come out in Swill 5.
Turtle of the Earth will come out in Cucurbital 2. (and I’ve seen the author copies.)
O-Taga-San is scheduled to come out some time from Flyleaf Press (an imprint of Drollerie)

I finished The Winter the Troll Danced with Old Nick in October (which is technically last year, but you know…)
I began The Were-humans, originally intending to make it a novella.
I plotted the five books of the Klarion Series.
I began the heavy-duty revision of The Substance of Shadows.
I began a short story I’m tentatively calling End over End.

Only two things at this point
Mark Twain’s Daughter at
Empress Dark at Space Squid (just couldn’t say no to a name like that!)

What do I do with the time that remains in this bright, shiny year?

Continue reading “Writing Year in Review So Far”

Travel Plans

So, I’ve been thinking about 2012.

I already know where I’ll be traveling for the first part of the year, and what my conventions will be through July 4. You can see those plans on the page where I list such things. Notice that with the exception of TESOL (where I have to be sniff Dr. Catherine), these are fairly local. I am hoping to hook up with my travel buddy Catrina while I’m in Philly, so we can have a brunost and strawberry cider reunion.


Once school cranks up, I’ll be soliciting professional development for funds to go to Taos Toolbox next year. My usual budget, which faculty get every two years, will cover the early registration cost. I’ll have to cover food and airfare, but that would substantially reduce my expenses, so I’d take it. Nancy Kress is now a personal hero, and I’d like to study with her.

I wonder if any writers I know will be applying for Taos, or are thinking about it.

In a couple more years, I’ll try to use my professional development to study in Lawrence, Kansas, to study with Kij Johnson if I can.


And then there’s the fall of 2012. I will of course have Icon, my local. I am thinking seriously of Worldcon in Chicago. Since it’s local, and I’m due for a local convention from the department during the 2012-2013 school year, I’ll see if this can be the one. I’ve never been to a World Con before. I’ll be interested to see what it’s like, and I understand it’ll be a great place to hook up with some of you.

Of course, Reno is this weekend, so many of you who would be going are gone, and you won’t see this until later. Yeah, that was a good sentence. I wonder who will be going.

Well, I’d better get in some real writing. It’s fun to speculate, but it’s also waxing the cat.

How about you? What are your conventions this year and next?


The Snow Queen’s Shadow

Jim Hines recently completed his fourth and final book in the Princess series, The Snow Queen’s Shadow.

I am a fan of Hines’ works. I am still convinced that Jig the Goblin is the modern day equivalent of Everyman (or, if you will, every geek, as I believe we can all see ourselves in Jig.) The Princess series was a real departure for Jim from his reputation as a humorous writer, and I believe that gamble has paid off. Over the course of the series he has re-interpreted and developed traditional characters into complex modern characters.

The Snow Queen’s Shadow is not Hines’ first treatment of a Hans Christian Anderson tale. That first outing was the moody, thought-provoking The Mermaid’s Madness, easily my favorite of the series. I have to admit, in this book, Hines has his work cut out for him. The Snow Queen is perhaps my favorite Anderson tale. Every time I look at it, I see a new dimension in what Anderson is trying to say about humanity. Go on, read it for yourself. See what you think.

Of course, Hines’ novel is not a mere re-telling of The Snow Queen. Hines uses his incarnations of Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella as the central cast, and he uses elements of The Snow Queen story to pull together their final adventure. There are twists and turns for fans of the series, so I will put a spoiler cut right here. Go further at your own peril.

Continue reading “The Snow Queen’s Shadow”

Looking Ahead

It’s 4 o’clock. Normally, I’d be leaving work about now, but Bryon is with the car as it gets its oil changed, a tire played with, and his keys re-batteried. We want the car in good shape. It’s his birthday this weekend, and we are taking a trip up to the Bristol Faire in Kenosha to enjoy The Swordsmen, see our friend Paul, and enjoy a delicious and decadent meal at Georgie Porgie’s. A solo trip will be nice for a change. It’s been a while. It’ll also be the last hoohah of the summer before we both are back at work, and it’ll get the bad taste of the last couple of days out of my brain.


Tomorrow, my plan is to give you a review of the latest Jim Hines novel The Snow Queen’s Shadow. Since The Snow Queen is one of my favorite Anderson tales, I’ll let you know what fans of the original can expect.

Also, I need to do a writer update. Haven’t done one of those in a while. And Marvel 200. And there are still 3 (4?) VP interviews coming.


You guys have a good evening. I have to consult with a resume client, and I have to do some writing and working out.


VP Profile #20: Chris Cornell

Chris is a friendly guy, an accessible writer, and a talented musician. That’s a pretty good combination.

Tamago: When did you discover you wanted to be a writer?

Chris: I don’t remember not writing. I was an avid reader even in grade school, and it seemed like the next logical step. If you enjoy someone else’s stories, why not share some of your own?<

Tamago: What are your favorite topics to write about?

Chris: I enjoy any time characters are forcibly ejected from their comfortable world. How one reacts to the unexpected really defines that person. I don’t subscribe to genres so much as interesting and involving situations of any place or time. it’s fun to apply universal truths to outlandish settings.

Tamago: How did you come to apply for Viable Paradise?

Chris: Writing has always been a part of my life, but my discipline fluctuates as other interests come and go. I had reached a stage where I was really writing and critiquing with every minute I could pull from some other pursuit. I happened upon the Viable Paradise site while researching online, had the time to spare, and just went for it. A rare case of perfect timing.

Tamago: What would you tell a new writer about the workshopping experience?

Chris: Don’t sleep! Take every opportunity to get involved with your fellow attendees. Every day at VP is true gold, due as much to the other writers as the instructors. Also, wear your thickest skin and don’t take anything personally. I thought I was adequately prepared for criticism when I arrived, and discovered I still had much to learn. Good thing.

Tamago: My internet sources tell me that you are a musician. What do you play? Does your writing and music connect?

Chris: I drift in and out of music much like I write. I had played guitar in a club band in years past; now I mostly arrange and play everything from the comfort of my office. Writing is a similar process, be it music or prose or some type of script. You have to engage the audience and keep them interested throughout. I’ve also spent some time working in film and video. I still can’t decide what I want to be when (if) I grow up.

Tamago: What are you working on right now?

Chris: I have several very different projects in simultaneous development. I’m most excited about a project I’m working on with a talented artist friend, and it will most likely become a graphic novel. It deals with a slightly altered reality during San Francisco’s Barbary Coast period. Shanghaiing, rioting and other merriment. So much of that lawless period is romanticized, but there were some pretty twisted things going on. It’s also fun to incorporate local history and legend.

I’m also working my way through PCH Roadkill, a near future science fiction novel, and revisiting some of my shorts.

Tamago: Some people say that they are short story writers. Others say they are novel writers. Do you have a preferred form?

Chris: I suppose I’d have to say that I’m a novel writer. I tend to use short stories as an exercise in discipline, as they require incredible economy and focus to really pay off. My best work is usually about exploration of a theme rather than a concise point to be made within a few pages. Or maybe I just suck at editing.

Tamago: If you could write your dream project, what would it be?

Chris: I remain fascinated by the continued breakdown of the rigid categorizations we’ve traditionally applied to media. I’d love to develop a story that incorporates multiple forms in a satisfying way. Books, films, music, comics and even fine arts are all coexisting as ones and zeroes in the same digital storage.

Tamago: What is the one thing you know now about being a writer that you wish you’d known from the beginning?

Chris: Write, write, write. Professionals often tell you that bad writing in volume is very beneficial to learning your craft. Unfortunately, it takes doing that for awhile to understand on more than an intellectual level. Keep going. Knock out that lousy first draft.

Tamago: Where can readers find your work?

Chris: Nowhere convenient, unfortunately. Other than a short that I sold to a magazine that folded one issue too early, I haven’t been sending out many submissions. I hope to remedy that once I finish revising several long-form projects. I will soon be contributing a weekly segment, as well as music and other cues, to a streaming radio show on the Progressive Radio Network from New York. I’ll be posting links to projects on my blog as they reach sunlight. How’s that for an anticlimax?

Thanks for the interview, Chris!