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.