Thursday, November 15, 2007

First Reader's Draft

How's this for an excuse. The reason I haven't updated this blog in so long is because I've been working so hard on my second novel. It's true! I've been putting in between 30 and 40 hours a week on it for the last several months. Last Saturday, I finished the Reader's Draft, which is the second complete rewrite. I've sent it off to my trusty gang of first readers. But the manuscript is so late, I can't wait for their feedback and am already starting from page one and revising.

An interesting note: I didn't keystroke the manuscript. I dictated it, all 455 pages, with Dragon Naturally Speaking, version 9. That software is a wonder, and in another version or two, I won't even have to speak; it'll just know what I want to write.

Anyway, the photo above is from my front door. I am spending the winter in Homer, Alaska, the house guest of some wonderful people here.

Friday, August 10, 2007

From the road

I'm traveling home from St. Louis where I attended Archon 31 (and a few days visiting family in Indiana), and since I'm going to spend 21 hours en route back to Fairbanks today, I should try to catch up with recent events.

Teaching at Kachemak Bay Writer's Conference in June was fantastic. I presented a 2-part, 3-hour course on How to Plot a Popular Short Story, as well as a brief survey of science fiction. I had thought I was the first SF author to teach there, but I learned that Molly Glass, author of a marvelous short story on aliens (entitled, I think, "Lambing Season") was there a couple of years ago. There were about 160 attendees, from 15 states. The con was very well run, and the instructors an exceptional bunch of writers, publishers, and others in the industry, but the standout feature of the con is its location in Homer, Alaska. My state is rich in natural beauty, and Homer is near the top of the list (the photo above looks out across Kachemak Bay). The con takes place at the Land's End Hotel at the end of the Homer Spit. The spit in Homer is, I think, the longest natural spit in the world, about 4.5 miles. It projects out halfway across the bay and is an ideal place to fish for flounder, cod, and rockfish. There a "fishing hole" on the spit, an artificial bight where anglers can take salmon.

One reason I was so excited about teaching at the conference is because I wanted to check out Homer as a possible place to relocate. The last time I was there was 30 years ago when I was a "spit rat," that is, a cannery worker. Well, the town has grown since then, the cannery has burned down, there's a Safeway store, and real estate values are through the roof. Nevertheless, I plan to spend this winter there and I've arranged to stay in the guest house of a wonderful couple there. If all goes well, I may pack up and move permanently to Homer next year.

While at the con, I learned that my agent sold the paperback rights to my collection, GETTING TO KNOW YOU, to Del Rey. That's great, but it won't come out till Fall '08, which is a bummer because the Subterranean edition is sold out. I'm told that there may be a few hundred copies of it "sloshing around" in the distribution system, so don't despair if you haven't gotten yours yet. But for all practical purposes my book, which was released in April, is out of print until next year. Unless, it wins the 2007 Quill Award, that is. In that case Subterranean will put out a special edition.

I guess that my big news is that right before I left for Archon, I learned that a division of Universal Pictures, Focus Features, has agreed to purchase an option to my novella, "The Wedding Album." This is a big deal, to me at least. There's a dab of money involved, and if they exercise the option, a real payday. Of course, I'm told not to hold my breath, that 99% of options go nowhere. But "TWA" is probably my most popular work to date, and it would make a compelling SF movie, and quite an unusual one in that there are no killer robots or space aliens or starship battles involved.

Archon 31, itself, was a fun time. It was my first NASFIC. I went because I'm not going to worldcon in Yokohama. Unfortunately, few of my NY or London friends made it to the St. Louis con (actually held across the Mississippi in Collinsville, IL), and I recognized only a few faces. On the upside, this forced me to be more open to meeting new people. And I did! You can meet the nicest people at SF cons.

And finally, my second novel, the continuing saga of COUNTING HEADS, which has the working title MIND OVER OSHIP, is progressing by leaps and bounds (at least by my standards). Alas, it won't be ready by my deadline of mid-September. But my editor at Tor has given me an extension, and I plan to finish it up this winter in Homer.

The photo below is a raindrop on a rose hip leaf in my yard.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Quill Awards Finalist

Big awards news--my story collection, Getting to Know You, was named yesterday as a finalist for the 2007 Quill Book Awards in SF/Fantasy! In case you haven't heard about the Quills, this is only their third year, and they seem to be an attempt to put some glitz into literary awards. The award ceremony is the only nationally televised book award ceremony in the US and will originate from Jazz at Lincoln Center and include celebs, a red carpet, and a gala celebration. Looks like I may need to buy a tux.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Getting Caught Up with Things

Folks have asked for an update on the second novel. I'm so bad about posting, I should be punished. Here's some recent and upcoming items:

Writer Con in the Banana Belt
Next month I'm going to be an instructor at Kachemak Bay Writers Conference in sunny Homer, Alaska. It's a great extended weekend of workshops, readings, and panels in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. And during summer solstice! I'm going to give a workshop about the wonders of science fiction and another on how to plot the popular short story. In other words, I'm going to get my genre on.

Philoctetes vs the Alien
Last month I was invited to join a roundtable discussion on Extraterrestrial Life at the Philoctetes Center in NYC. The Philoctetes Center is an organization dedicated to the multi-disciplinary exploration of human imagination. In other words, they get scientists, artists, and experts of all sorts together around a table and let them talk about interesting stuff. You can watch a streaming video of the hour-and-a-half discussion. I, myself, don't hold forth till about an hour into it.

Novel #2 Update
I took advantage of my trip to NYC to visit my editor at Tor, David Hartwell. I had finished the first draft of Mind Over Oship in January, but since then I've changed the book a lot, and I'm happy with the direction I'm taking. For those of you who read Counting Heads, I guess I can tell you that MOO picks up right where CH leaves off. Originally I followed the same three threads, but in the second draft I've cut out pretty much the whole Kodiak thread. Bogdan and crew were just taking up too much space to tell their story. It'll have to be a separate book someday. So, now I'm following the Starke thread, with Meewee and the Oships, and the Mary and Fred thread. M and F, in fact, get about half of the book.

The book was originally due to Tor by mid-September 2007, but I couldn't see how it would be finished and polished by then, and after I gave Hartwell my progress report, I asked if I could have another six months. He agreed, and so I intend to have it in by next March. That means I should be polishing it all winter. Sorry to make everyone wait to see what happens, but these things take time. At least they take me time.

The photo above shows a building under construction wrapping near the Tor offices. Rather SFnal.

Launching my story collection

This week I launch my debut short story collection, Getting to Know You. I'll be at the Fairbanks Barnes & Noble on Friday, May 11, 7-9 pm and then on Thursday May 17, I'll be at the Fairbanks Gulliver's Bookstore from 6-8 pm.

The only story I seem to have of just the right length for a public reading is "Yurek Rutz, Yurek Rutz, Yurek Rutz." But I've read that one a number of times locally and won't subject the public to it again. Instead, I think I'll give a sampler of openings. I'll read the first seven minutes of three separate stories.

Hope to see you there.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Osama Phone Home

I have a new story in this issue (March/April) of MIT Technology Review. It's called "Osama Phone Home," and is about the most political and contemporary piece I've ever done. It's also the first science fiction the TR has published in its century of reporting on emergent tech. Here's what editor/publisher Jason Pontin writes in the same issue:

In this, I believe, I am an entirely conventional technologist. Most of us came to technology through science fiction; our imaginations remain secretly moved by ­science-fictional ideas. Only the very exalted are honest about their debt. In his collection of lectures on the future of technology, Imagined Worlds, the great theoretical ­physicist Freeman Dyson writes, "Science is my territory, but science fiction is the landscape of my dreams."

As to the photo at the top of this entry, I think it's a dead alien. I found it lying on the snow on the trail to my shed. It was already dead when I found it. A powerful build, hairy legs, a horse-like head. I didn't move it, and I think the foxes got it.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Getting to Know You--First Review!

My story collection got a starred review in Publishers Weekly today. Very cool and a good way to start out. The title above is linked to the review, but you need to be a subscriber.

* Getting to Know You
David Marusek. Subterranean (, $25 (297p) ISBN 978-1-59606-088-3

Marusek, in a blurb for this superb collection of 10 stories (all the shorter SF he's published to date), gives fair warning when he says he lays his stories "like traps and bait[s] them with shiny ideas." Since the author lives in Alaska, it's no surprise to find that his characters inhabit extreme environments, both physical and psychological. "The Earth Is on the Mend" and "Yurek Rutz, Yurek Rutz, Yurek Rutz" are set in the Arctic, with characters made pragmatic by cold circumstance. Similarly stark is the world of "Cabbages and Kale or How We Downsized North America" (one of several entries that are sketches for his 2006 novel, Counting Heads), where characters fight to stay ahead of change, and one bad decision can topple a world. Marusek's "shiny ideas"—cloned laborers, electronic "proxies," the "boutique economy"—sparkle, but these assured stories also draw on core SF themes: in the face of change, what does it mean to be human, and where do we draw the line between helping ourselves and hurting others? (Apr.)

Sharron--A True Hero of the Arts

When I received the first galleys of my story collection to proof, I was compelled to read all eleven stories again, looking for typos and errors. When you write a story (or novel), you have to read and reread the piece many times, from first glimmerings, through many drafts, and much polishing to the final typeset galleys. Generally, you don't read the story when it comes out in print because by then you're sick of it and would feel satisfied if you never saw the story again in this life.

In addition, I updated "We Were Out of Our Minds with Joy" for inclusion in the novel, so I must have read that one well over 50 times. It's truly hard to read something so many times.

After the first read-through, I returned the galley. Then I realized that the manuscripts I had supplied Subterranean Press had never been reconciled to the published version of the stories. And there are always subtle edits done in the final copyediting. So I was faced with going through the eleven stories yet another time, this time comparing them word for word against the published versions.

My heart was not up to the task. I knew it would crush me, so I sent out a plea for help to the Borough Library SF reading group I belong to. And this young woman answered the call and volunteered to do the final read through for me. She may have saved my sanity; therefore, I pronounce Sharron Albert a True Hero of the Arts!

Thank you.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Neb Prelim Ballot!

Good news for my first novel, Counting Heads. It's made the preliminary ballot for the Nebula Award.

The photo above is my brother, Mark, dressed up at Holloween as the KFC Colonel. Looks like he's counting hands.

Story collection is coming along

Subterranean Press is putting the finishing touches on my collection to be released in April. Here's what the cover is looking like at this stage. Illustrator is Mark A. Nelson. You can pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and quality bookstores everywhere.

Read Czech?

A Czech anthology has been published that includes my story "The Wedding Album." Looks like a winner. Here's the lineup:

PAOLO BACIGALUPI: THE PASHO (Asimov's SF September 2004)
ALAN DENIRO: SALTING THE MAP (Fortean Bureau 2003)
EILEEN GUNN: COMING TO TERMS (Stable Strategies 2004)
ELLEN KLAGES: TIME GYPSY (Bending the Landscape: Science Fiction 1998)
JAY LAKE: INTO THE GARDENS OF SWEET NIGHT (L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume XIX 2003)
PAUL MELKO: FALLOW EARTH (Asimov's SF June 2004)
Sarah Monette: Three Letters from the Queen of Elfland (Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet 2002)
TIM PRATT: LITTLE GODS (Strange Horizons 2002)
Bruce Holland Rogers: Thirteen Ways to Water (Black Cats and Broken Mirrors, eds. Martin H. Greenberg & John Helfers 1998)
KEN WHARTON: ALOHA (Analog June 2003)

Special guest: