Saturday, October 07, 2006

Story Collection Pre-Order

Subterranean Press has just made my upcoming short story collection available for pre-order. The book is due for release in April 07, but you can reserve a copy today.

The photo at the top is blown fireweed from before our first snowfall a couple of weeks ago. I'm not sure why I'm into posting nature snapshots here lately, but I am, so deal with it.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Big doings in October

Next month I have three readings in Fairbanks. I plan on reading a different piece at each.

Friday, October 6, 7:00 PM--UA Museum
My reading will launch the new season of the Midnight Sun Readers Series at the gorgeous new University of Alaska Museum addition. I will read something from COUNTING HEADS that I haven't read in public before. All are welcome.

Friday, October 13, 2:45 PM--UAF University Park
This is part of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Fall Schedule of "Fairbanks Authors." You have to be enrolled in the class to attend (but I think you can still sign up; call 907-474-6607). I plan to speak on the eternal question asked of writers--Where do your ideas come from? To illustrate, I will read my only SF story set in Fairbanks--"Yurek Rutz, Yurek Rutz, Yurek Rutz."

Saturday, October 21, 7:00 PM--Alaskaland Bear Gallery
I will be one of several local SF writers reading from their work. I plan to debut a work in progress, a short short story called, "Five Glimpses of the Day After Tomorrow." All are welcome.

The photo above is a particularly pretty fungus growing in my yard.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

LA Worldcon

I have been remiss in keeping this blog current. The long and the short of it is that I'm working full time on the second novel and two commissioned short stories. Unfortunately, I don't have the time even now to update with details. I just wanted to announce, for anyone in the LA area, that I'll be at the World Science Fiction Convention in Anaheim from this Wednesay, August 23, through Sunday the 27th. The program committee there has declined to assign me ANY program events, so I won't be on panels, have a reading, or be on the autographing schedule. But I'll be hanging out, attending panels, parties, etc. and if anyone wants to have me autograph their copy of COUNTING HEADS or to just say hello, please stop me in the halls. Also, I'll be checking the voodoo board and my emails regularly. Do approach me; I'd be more than glad to meet you.

The photo above is how I felt when the con program committee informed me that there was no place on the program for me. I was ready to go ballistic, but friends calmed me down. No, actually, it's a parasite that appeared on my wild roses this year. It looks dastardly, but only infected a plant or two. Nevertheless, few of my dozens of rose plants produced rose hips this year, though I don't think that was related to this particular pest.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Campbell finalist

I am proud to announce that COUNTING HEADS was named one of twelve finalists for the John W. Campbell Award. The Campbell Award is for the best novel as judged by a jury selected by the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas. These are the same folks who present the Sturgeon Award for best short fiction, which "The Wedding Album" won in 2000. Here's the full story.

By the way, the above picture has nothing to do with the Campbell. It's just a nice picture of the trunk of a paper birch across the road that I like.

Reading at Barnes & Noble

My reading at the new Fairbanks Barnes & Noble was a big success, though I think I read too fast. The chapter from MIND OVER OSHIP that I prepared was longer than the 20 minutes that I feel is optimal for a live reading. But afterwards in the Q & A period, the audience kept me talking longer than I read, so I guess no one was too impatient to get out of there. The bookstore staff even served little cakes from the cafe, a neat touch.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Reading at Barnes & Noble

I will read a chapter from my second book-in-progress, MIND OVER OSHIP, on Saturday, May 20, at the new Fairbanks Barnes and Noble bookstore, starting at 7 PM. Hope to see you there.

Second Season

I am pleased and proud to announce that COUNTING HEADS has been doing well enough (going into its third printing) that I have been afforded the privilege of publishing a second book.

I've recently signed a contract with Tor with a September 2007 delivery date. Such a short deadline makes me nervous, since I've never written under contract before, and 18 months seems to me an incredibly brief length of time to do a novel (the first one took six years if you include "We Were Out of Our Minds with Joy"). But I am filling binders with words and I'm fairly confident in my abilities.

I want to give a few details about Book 2, but first I should try to clear up a loose end or two about COUNTING HEADS. One thing that almost every review remarked on was the ending. Here's how Bookmarks Magazine, a sort of review digest for bibliophiles, put it, "Only the ending rang false in its brevity, suggesting that perhaps a sequel may be on its way."

So, is Book 2 a sequel, and if so, why was that fact missing on the COUNTING HEADS cover?

Book 2, which has a working title of MIND OVER OSHIP, does pick up right after the close of CH, with the same characters and overarching story line, but I don't think of it as a sequel, for that implies that the initial book was complete in itself. "Second in a series," is closer but I think implies more plot cohesion than I have in mind. I prefer to use a TV metaphor and think of these books as seasons of an ensemble cast drama, like ER or The West Wing.

What is the story arc of ER? A look at working in a busy county hospital emergency room in Chicago. That's it; that's what serves as plot. Characters come and go through the seasons, issues are explored, the administration and set changes (as they would in real life), and patients keep rolling in for their life and death struggles. The plot of The West Wing is: This is what it's like working in the White House for a popular liberal president. How much more open-ended can you get? Would you call the second season of ER a sequel of the first? Do you expect each season to wrap up all the individual plot threads? I don't think so.

With the TV model in mind, my story arc is about a thousand-year voyage aboard a colony ship traveling to a new star system, including the time it takes to get off the ground, the trip itself, and time spent at the other end at the destination. In other words, my plot line is quite open-ended, and I think the only limit to its run is declining interest, both the readers' and mine. And I feel empowered to leave a lot of loose ends at the end of any single season--book.

While I regret that no mention of future installments appeared at the CH release, I certainly understand why it didn't. Most readers have no idea how competitive the media is these days. It's excruciatingly tough to break into print in the fiction field. Publishers don't just hand out contracts, especially to writers of quirky fiction like me. I believe that David Harwell and Tor took a chance on me. I believe this because of all the other publishers who saw the manuscript passed on it. It doesn't surprise me that my sale was for a single book, not a trilogy. I'm not sure I would have even accepted a multi-book deal, not being sure I could even write one book at the time.

This brings up another sticky point. Some readers think that CH is half a book. This misimpression is probably my fault. On this blog (the inaugural posting) and other places I describe the CH timeline in which I describe how Hartwell asked me to cut the book in two (at 185,000 words it was just too long for marketing purposes). While it's true that I did cut the book in two, he subsequently asked me to put them back together for artistic reasons, and that's what I did. CH is the whole book, even if, as the Publisher's Weekly reviewer said, "it doesn't so much come to a conclusion as crash headlong into the last page."

Thursday, April 06, 2006

My Morning Glory

My latest short story, "My Morning Glory," was published today in the British science journal, NATURE. It's part of their Futures series of short shorts. My story is only 800 words long. I love short shorts. I'm thinking of specializing in them and writing only short shorts and novels from now on. The main distinction of this story is not its length, however, but the fact that it has a happy ending. An unalloyed happy ending--my first!

The story is online here, but you have to have an account to log in. Sorry.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Signs of Spring

This week the state road crew came out with plows and dozers and prepared Yankovich Road for breakup. The photo above shows my newly scraped and bermed mailbox.

After an especially cold and gloomy March, we finally have a sunny, warm (30s F) couple of days in a row, and things are quickening. The roads are puddled, trees are shedding snow load, packed trails are soft underfoot. So far the quintessential sign of spring, at least for me, has not started--water dripping from the eaves of my house, but it could happen any minute now, and I am so ready.

Short Story Collection!

Finally and at last there will be a collection of my short stories! I am so excited. I have just signed a contract with Subterranean Press, and editor Bill Schafer and I are beginning the design process. The volume will include all of my published short fiction, and I plan to introduce each story with a few choice paragraphs of background info.

The book is on a fast track for publication and may be released as early as January 07.

Thanks to everyone who has emailed me supporting this collection. Your interest is everything.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Ice Art

If you've been thinking about visiting Alaska in the winter but never knew why, here's one good reason.

Daughter Kalina and friend Monika and I went to the Ice Art park last night, the last weekend before the park closes (and sculptures bulldozed, lest they melt and fall on people). I'll bet most readers of this blog won't know that Fairbanks is a stop on the world ice sculpting circuit. Our sculpture park draws ice artists from all the ice hotspots, including Russia, China, Germany, and France.

Not that these babies are in any real danger of melting any time soon. We have had such a cold gloomy March.

Here are Monika and Kalina. I left the red eye in because it seemed to fit. Sorry, girls.

Here's a detail of a much larger piece. The lighting itself is artistry.

Foreign Deal

The car pictured above is not my car, only a car I have lusted over in public in Seattle.

I have just signed a contract for publication of COUNTING HEADS in Romania. My agent tells me there are more foreign contracts on the way, but this is the first to arrive. I can't wait to see what the book will look like all duded up in Bucharest having dinner with the folks from Editura Tritonic. Very cool, little book.

Friday, March 17, 2006

A lap-ful o' denali

When I flew to Anchorage last week, the pilot literally flew us right over the mountain. I've never been so close.

Geek-fu (or enough about me)

Yesterday I stumbled across Andrew Wheeler's blog in which I learned that there has been a minor flame war concerning my NYTBR review on March 5. Flame war may be too strong a term for what transpired, but here are some links to judge for yourself. Link , Link 2 , Link 3 , Link 4 , Link 5 , Link 6 , Link 7.

You will note that there were a lot of hot heads and that much vitriol was spilled. Remarkably, my book, the purported object of the review, was largely ignored. That's because the fracas wasn't about my book. It was mostly a rant against the Time's reviewer, Dave Itzkoff, and his fitness or lack thereof, to represent Science Fiction in the pages of the NYT.

My role in all this, I think, is to remain a stunned by-stander. Of course, I'm tempted to weigh in on my book's behalf. To refute some of the malicious lies written about it. To chastise the number of self-appointed pundits who, admitting they haven't even read the book, nevertheless adopt the reviewer's opinions without challenge and dismiss it as unworthy of taking up so much valuable space in the NYT.

But alas, I have already cut COUNTING HEADS loose. I gave it as good a launch as my publicist at Tor and I could muster. We gave it a loving shove into an indifferent world. My debut novel is on its own now, and if it wants to mix it up in the NYT, there's nothing I can do about it except chew my nails and wish it well. Keep your dukes up, little book.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

New York Times Book Review

In case I haven't crowed loud enough, my novel COUNTING HEADS received a full-page review in the NYT on March 5 ( I think I'm finally coming to grips with it. At first I thought it was a mixed review, seeing how the reviewer said some things I took as disparaging.

Then I reread the review and took it as backhanded NYC speech for "We love it!"

Then I read it not as a review to tell potential readers about my book (it doesn't) but rather as a personal missive from the reviewer to me alone. The last paragraph is the major tip-off where, with a wink and a nudge, he gives me some friendly advice about writing my next books.

Well, I'm already a third of the way through the first draft of the next book, tentatively titled, MIND OVER OSHIP, and I think the emotionally stunted AIs are taking over. So much for good advice.

In any case, the issue of the hour is finally getting a story collection published. (Read the next post down.) Send me an email at and I'll attach you a pdf of my Sturgeon Award-winning novella, "The Wedding Album." If you'd be interested in seeing a story collection, let me know and I'll use it in my lobbying efforts.

And at the top is the photoshopped mug shot the Times ran with the review. What can I say--I'll make an attractive cyborg.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The short stories

I regularly receive enquiries about my short fiction. I've been wanting to have a collection for years, but putting out a collection of short stories is harder than you might think. I'm told collections lose money for the publisher, and my agent hasn't landed me a deal yet.

On the other hand, I'm not thrilled with the idea of self-publishing them as a POD or ebook either. And I'm not yet in the Creative Commons camp where I would simply post them on my site and let people download them at will. I know there's a lot of arguments for and against doing this, but I'm not ready yet.

However, with today's review in the NYT and reviewer Dave Itzkoff calling them "as concentrated and potent as a dwarf star," I have to do something. Especially with people sending me emails all day asking about them. My agent is in England at the moment. When he returns to NYC, I'll start a campaign with him and David Hartwell at Tor to GIVE ME A COLLECTION, DANG IT. You can help by emailing me and saying you'd be interested in such a colleciton.

In the meantime, I'll send you a complimentary pdf copy of "The Wedding Album" just for the asking.

Also, there's a Stories link on my web page ( with a complete bibliography. Many of my stories have been anthologized and should be available at most public libraries. Even here in Fairbanks, Alaska, I can find all of them at our excellent Noel Wien Library.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

some catch-up news

My big news is that COUNTING HEADS will be reviewed this Sunday, March 5, in The New York Times Book Review. And not just a tiny paragraph notice, the review covers a whole page and is illustrated with a mug shot in which my face is photoshopped to look like--a Borg, I guess. Anyway, very SFnal.

What I don't get is all the hand-wringing about SF being too geeky. Must be a NYC thing.

The photo above is of me doing a signing at the local Waldenbooks store last month. This was the first time I've done the "author sitting out front next to a table of books" thing. My daughter, Kalina, was up for the weekend, and she sat with me, so it was actually a good visit. And a number of people did drop by to BUY THE BOOK, so there was some book business going on too.

My second piece of good news is that I sold a short short story to NATURE, the venerable, weekly, British science journal. They are publishing a series of single-page short SF stories called Futures. The stories are 800 to 900 words in length. Mine, which will be my 11th published short story, is called "My Morning Glory." It's a little confection, like a bon bon, that leaves a sweet taste in the mouth. In other words, I finally wrote a happy story. I think.

Don't know which issue it'll appear in.