Archive for category Fiction
A writing retreat is a good thing.
With no worries but the words, the pressures of life relieve a little bit. And being surrounded by like-minded people frittering away on their keyboards … well, you tend to get a fair amount accomplished.
Now add in a beautiful location, good weather, and good friends old and new. That’s what made my recent days at the Woodthrush Writing Retreat (ironically) indescribably awesome.
I’m fried. That’s the sad truth of it. Teaching an overload, ramping up duties for this and that, working night and day on the Owain Glyndwr project … I can honestly say I’m not firing on all cylinders.
I like to think that other folks — my students especially — don’t notice, but even if they don’t, I do.
And I don’t like it.
What I especially don’t like is how the strain of the constant workload has essentially shut down my fiction writing output.
And that, folks, is why today is a Very Good Day. Because today I head up to a writer’s retreat run by Mary Robinette Kowal. For the rest of the week, I’ll be surrounded by writers. There will be no Latin or Anglo-Norman to translate. There will be no essays to grade. There will be no articles in need of revision or submission in need of editing.
Just me, good people, and the fiction.
I can’t wait to get started.
April 20-22 I’ll be in Roswell, Georgia for JordanCon 4, a growing convention devoted to the works of Robert Jordan. I’m extremely excited to be a part of the scene, which will give me a chance to catch up with old friends (Team Jordan, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Eugie Foster among them) while making new ones.
I’ll be giving an updated version of the Jordan-as-American-Tolkien lecture that I gave last year at the TarValon.net gathering here in Charleston, but I’ll also be on several panels discussing various aspects of writing. My schedule:
- 4-5. “Is it Fantasy or Sci-Fi?” Presenters: Mary Robinette Kowal, Emilie Bush, Michael Livingston. A discussion of the differences between these often-linked genres and why (other) people don’t take them seriously enough!
- 5:30-6:30. “Shifting Language.” Presenters: Mary Robinette Kowal, Michael Livingston. Join Medieval scholar Dr. Michael Livingston and Hugo award-winning author Mary Robinette Kowal as they talk about how the English language has shifted over the centuries and how you can use that shift in fiction.
- 10-11. “Robert Jordan’s Redefinition of Tolkien’s Fantasy.” Presenter: Michael Livingston. Michael Livingston, Professor of English from The Citadel (Robert Jordan’s alma mater), presents a lecture defending fantasy literature and highlighting the ways in which Jordan is productively viewed as the American heir to the Tolkien tradition.
- 1-2. “Keeping it Short.” Presenters: Eugie Foster, Michael Livingston. A discussion on the differences in writing short fiction and novels.
- 4-5. “History and Fantasy Hour.” Presenters: Mary Robinette Kowal, Michael Livingston. A discussion about mixing fantasy with history and keeping it accurate.
- 1-2. “Folklore and Fairytales.” Presenters: Eugie Foster, Michael Livingston. Incorporating myth and tradition into fiction.
That’s a lot to do, but it’ll be with great people!
Some months ago, I published my first short fiction collection, Angels Among Other Things, as an Amazon Kindle e-book. I made no announcement of it at the time, primarily because I wanted to work the kinks out of the e-book. I have quite a bit of experience in digital publishing, after all, but formatting for the new e-readers is something I had not done.
Life got busy, and it was only recently that I was able to update the file and feel comfortable announcing it to the world.
So here we are, and just in time for the Holidays!
Angels Among Other Things collects nine of my short stories:
- A Very Young Boy with Largely Clipped Wings
- The Keeper Alone
- Dr. Williamson and the Master Speed
- The Angel of Marye’s Heights
- At the End of Babel
- The Hand That Binds
- After the Song is Sung
- The Catch of the Day
- Gnome Season
Two of these stories have never been published. One of them won Writers of the Future. The others are among my favorites for one reason or another. Because I like such things from other writers, I’ve written short blurbs about the origin and composition of each piece.
So if you’re wanting to load something up on your Kindle (or someone else’s) this Hannukwanzmastide season … Pick up Angels Among Other Things. Then come on back and let me know what you think about it!
In the meantime, I’ll be working to get the collection available for the Nook and other e-readers.
The semester is in full swing here at The Citadel, which has clearly made my life busy again and contributed a bit to the quiet hereabouts.
But that’s not the only thing that’s been happening.
Earlier this year I was asked to be the Associate Director of the Honors Program, and only now is that job becoming a reality in terms of time spent on the clock. It’s exciting and fascinating, but it’s also a draw-down on my spare time.
On the plus side, I had more spare time to give to the job since two weeks ago my father sold 4xGuard, the Jeep accessories business I’d been helping him to run. The good folks at JeepinByAl are now in charge of the business.
Meanwhile, I’m readying my application materials for tenure and promotion, which are due at the start of November. While that seems like it’s a fair bit off, I have two conferences to go to between now and then, in addition to graduate exams to grade, plus the usual business of teaching.
And then there’s the fiction-writing business. I’m working on two novel-length projects right now, and I just returned from an extremely productive and enjoyable invite-only writers retreat this past weekend.
So life’s good. Things move forward. One step at a time.
I’ve been so busy — pleasantly so, what with going to Wales and all — that I somehow missed the fact that my short story “Purging Cocytus” has earned a second review (you may recall that the first review, from Lois Tilton, was quite good).
This time the kind words come from SF Site, where Sherwood Smith has reviewed Black Gate 15. Here’s what she has to say about my story:
In this horrific tale whose setup borders on science fiction, Danny’s grandfather has been in cryonic suspension but is now revived and has been returned to the family. The fantastic enters when Danny begins to have nightmares that the reader gradually recognizes as echoes from Dante’s Inferno. Powerfully and beautifully written, the story propels the reader, as well as Danny, to the inexorable and irresistible end. Again the theme of death and beyond comes up, this time with very dark overtones.
Hmmm… “powerfully and beautifully written.” I’ll take that!
As noted here before, this is a busy month, what with my being a student and all. But a few other things have been going on, including two interviews, both quite surprising.
The first surprise interview involved a writing class in Milwaukee, Wisconsin of all things. J. Boone Dryden contacted me about the fact that he would be utilizing one of my favorite short stories, “A Very Young Boy with Largely Clipped Wings,” in connection with its literary precursor, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings,” to talk about theme and voice and other matters. One thing led to another, and I ended up on a web camera, being streamed from my office here in Charleston to a screen in Milwaukee to talk to a group of young writers about my work and my methods. They were perceptive and gracious. I had a great time.
The second surprise interview involved a new job here at The Citadel. Much to my surprise, I was offered the chance to become the college’s first “Associate Director of the Honors Program.” As an Honors Program alumnus myself (from Baylor University), I consider this quite the extraordinary honor, and it involved a bit of follow-up interviewing … the end result of which is it seems I will indeed be taking this new position starting in the Fall.
So I’m still busy.
Also, Child 1.0 turned 5, which has been great fun since he’s at last of an age when he can be excited about such things.
Lois Tilton has just published a review of Black Gate 15 for Locus Online. Included is a nice little review of my latest short story, “Purging Cocytus”:
Horror, in a setting that is more SF than fantasy. Danny’s grandfather has been in cryonic suspension but is now revived and has been returned to the family. On the day of the revival, Danny began to have horrific nightmares about crossing the landscape of Dante’s Inferno, guided by an old man. Readers know this is not simply the child’s imagination, as the old man quotes Dante in both Italian and Latin and the scenes are directly from the epic as well. …
This is strong stuff, as is the conclusion, all in support of the author’s theme that death is not to be denied.