Tue, Oct. 14th, 2008, 08:26 am
I love this cover
Just got my author's copy yesterday. The anthology features stories about about a suburban U.S. high school catering to young wizards and witches, and my story "The House" bats cleanup in the volume (always a fun position to be in):
She lay face down on her bed, clutching her pillow over the back of her head, and moaned, “It’s useless. Useless!”
In the hallway outside her bedroom, Brianna’s mom had the linen closet open and was stacking sheets in it: Bri could smell the lavender water from here as her mom sprayed it onto layer after layer. And for the moment, the light clean scent infuriated her. Her mother’s compulsive housewifeliness didn’t usually bother Brianna so much except at moments like this, when the world was ending, and how nice the sheets smelled wasn’t even slightly germane.
“Sweetie,” her mom said, “maybe you should just wait a few days and ask him again.”
“It wouldn’t help,” Brianna muttered. “He’d just get the idea I really wanted to do this project with him.”
“Yes, but you do really want to do this project with him.”
“That’s not the point!!”
From out in the hall came the perhaps understandable long silence as her mother tried to parse this statement. Unfortunately Brianna had noticed that her logic and her mom’s sometimes just didn’t intersect, and occasionally serious annotation became necessary. “If I ask him again,” Bri said, pulling the pillow up a little so she wouldn’t have to shout, “he’ll tell everybody that I was desperate. It’ll be all over school. My rep will never recover.”
“Which rep are we talking about, honey?” her mother said, pausing to spray some more lavender water, and then to sneeze. Her mom was allergic to lavender, which always added a slightly surreal quality to this operation in Brianna’s eyes.
“My reputation as an independent kid who doesn’t need anybody’s help to get the job done!”
“Well, you don’t, if you ask me. So do it without him. If he’s not smart enough to want to pair up with you on this science fair thing -- ”
“Parascience, please, Mom! This is not just people fussing around with anemometers and toy erupting volcanoes: it’s going to be the main event of Heritage Week!” Though she had seen Carol Anne Naylor’s plan for a real miniature exploding volcano, genuine magma and all, and had been consumed by envy at not having thought of it first. If it worked, it would be terrific, and even if it malfunctioned, that could still potentially be desperately cool. After all, there was never any guarantee when you were working with a fire elemental, even a baby one, that it wouldn’t get out of hand --
Another few sneezes came from outside, and then the sound of her mother shutting the linen cupboard. A few seconds later her mom came in and sat down on the bed beside Brianna, smelling strongly of lavender. “All right,” she said to Brianna, “I’m missing something here. What exactly is it that makes Arthur Etchison so necessary to what you’ve got in mind?”
His eyes. His shoulder muscles. His haircut. His – But there was no point in getting into this line of reasoning with her mother. Brianna pulled the pillow up over her head again, this time with reason, as she was blushing again. It was the curse of her life: she had always been an easy blusher, and this year when Arthur arrived at school from England, an exchange student, yes, and I’d exchange any ten of our guys for one of him, he is just so -- Brianna moaned again, feeling like her face should just about be able to scorch the sheets under it at this point. “Mom, it’s just such a good idea! He’s the King of Shop: he’s got a way with metal, it listens to him. You should see him under the hood -- ” Wouldn’t I like to get under his hood!! said one completely unrepentant part of her mind: in response, the blush scaled right up to blowtorch level. She started talking faster, hoping to distract herself. “And nobody, nobody else has even thought about doing anything with the paraphysics of magic swords. Everybody’s all hung up on organics this year, the specific gravity of potions and catalytic thaumachemistry. Or else this vague paperwork stuff, diagramming hexes, the structural analysis of spells.” She waved a hand from under the pillow. “Airy-fairy stuff where nothing’s likely to blow up or make a mess. Nothing concrete. Nothing practical.”
Her mother sat quiet for a moment. “Okay,” her mom said. “So if you can’t ask him again to help you, what are you going to do?”
Brianna was tempted to cover her head with the pillow again… except that wouldn’t help her solve the problem. “Think of some other project?” she said after a moment. ...
And she does. Then matters ensue which are not merely hilarity.
A lot of good company in this anthology: Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Laura Resnick, Jody Lynn Nye, Esther Friesner, Debra Dixon... Worth a look, I'd say.
Mon, Jul. 21st, 2008, 03:12 pm
For those who may be interested: Chapter Seven of "The Big Meow" is now posted for subscribers
It's up at last.
There are a lot of places where this notification needs to be posted, and a lot of explanations and profound apologies to be made... but for the moment it just seems best to get the news out.
Chapter Seven is now available online for subscribers: it's linked to from the normal TBM subscriber gateway page. The same old username and password that worked for previous chapters will get you in. (If you can't find your login info, email me and I'll send it out to you pronto.) HTML and PDF versions are there right now -- the mobile .prc versions will go up in due course, as soon as we receive the conversions.
If you're not a subscriber, the chapter will go public on the 28th of the month. Look for the link to its gateway page in the left-hand menu at the project page at http://www.the-big-meow.com. (And for those of you who might feel inclined to subscribe, the subscription button is at the top of the left-hand column, along with info about what you get.)
Once again, I'm deeply sorry for the immense delay. I'm going back on the old one-chapter-per-three-weeks schedule: Chapter Eight will be going up in mid-August. Additionally, the book has become a couple of chapters longer in the course of being restructured -- check the project schedule for the anticipated posting dates.
Thanks again, everybody, so very much, for your patience during this past crazed and difficult year. More info shortly.
Wed, Sep. 26th, 2007, 10:21 am
In the "How could anyone possibly be fooled...?" department: "MarryOurDaughter.com"
My old Star Trek novel editor, John Ordover, is getting a lot of attention over the hoax website he created, MarryOurDaughter.com. (Despite the fact that he told the New York Times that it was a hoax way back on September 11th.) His intention was to publicize the bizarre disparity among US states of laws regarding what constitutes marriageable age, that age's relationship to the age of consent, and the role of parents in their (minor) children's marriages. (An example: in Texas, "...kids as young as 14 need parental permission to get married – unless, the law says, they have already been married before." ...Ye gods.)
What I'm trying to work out at the moment is how anyone who got so far into the website as to read the testimonials could possibly have still thought it was real.
Looks like a lot of people didn't make it that far, though... (See the various news stories on Google for details on the numerous cries of outrage.)
Mon, Sep. 24th, 2007, 04:42 pm
Aww, a nice review
This at least partly makes up for the water heater springing a leak over the weekend and nearly destroying the kitchen ceiling.
Mon, Sep. 17th, 2007, 08:55 am
Robert Jordan / Jim Rigney: R.I.P.
Now he's gone, too, after a long, difficult illness that he never stopped fighting.
It's some years since we saw him in Dublin. It was a pleasure to be with him, even for such a short time: he was a smart and funny guy. We will miss you, Jim. Go well.
Thu, Sep. 13th, 2007, 12:19 pm
A new Tron movie!!
Commercial director Joseph Kosinski is in final negotiations to develop and direct "Tron," described as "the next chapter" of Disney's 1982 cult classic. Sean Bailey is producing via the Live Planet banner, as is Steven Lisberger, who co-wrote and directed the original film.
Kosinski, who last month signed on to helm the remake of "Logan's Run" for Warner Bros. Pictures, will oversee the visual development of the project and have input on the script, which is being written by "Lost" scribes Eddie Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. Story details are being kept secret.
Oh please Ghu don't let them screw it up!!
Wed, Sep. 12th, 2007, 09:58 am
In the O RLY? department: "Study finds left-wing brain, right-wing brain"
In a simple experiment reported today in the journal Nature Neuroscience, scientists at New York University and UCLA show that political orientation is related to differences in how the brain processes information.
Previous psychological studies have found that conservatives tend to be more structured and persistent in their judgments whereas liberals are more open to new experiences. The latest study found those traits are not confined to political situations but also influence everyday decisions.
...Participants were college students whose politics ranged from "very liberal" to "very conservative." They were instructed to tap a keyboard when an M appeared on a computer monitor and to refrain from tapping when they saw a W.
M appeared four times more frequently than W, conditioning participants to press a key in knee-jerk fashion whenever they saw a letter.
Each participant was wired to an electroencephalograph that recorded activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, the part of the brain that detects conflicts between a habitual tendency (pressing a key) and a more appropriate response (not pressing the key). Liberals had more brain activity and made fewer mistakes than conservatives when they saw a W, researchers said. Liberals and conservatives were equally accurate in recognizing M.
Researchers got the same results when they repeated the experiment in reverse, asking another set of participants to tap when a W appeared.
Analyzing the data, Sulloway said liberals were 4.9 times as likely as conservatives to show activity in the brain circuits that deal with conflicts, and 2.2 times as likely to score in the top half of the distribution for accuracy.
Sulloway said the results could explain why President Bush demonstrated a single-minded commitment to the Iraq war and why some people perceived Sen. John F. Kerry, the liberal Massachusetts Democrat who opposed Bush in the 2004 presidential race, as a "flip-flopper" for changing his mind about the conflict.
Based on the results, he said, liberals could be expected to more readily accept new social, scientific or religious ideas.
Fascinating... Must go dig up the full article.
Sun, Sep. 9th, 2007, 11:35 am
Madeleine L'Engle is gone
And so, to my great sorrow, passes one of the most senior, and certainly one of the most beloved, of YA fantasy writers: one of the first of us to break out, over the course of years, into worldwide fame, and to general agreement that she "wasn't just writing kid stuff".
She was a gifted and powerfully imaginative writer with a graceful style. Unquestionably she was an influence on me, though perhaps not in the way people might think. I read her first few books, and while in a general way I liked what she was doing, I had personal niggles about the way she was doing it. Certainly there were things about A Wrinkle in Time and A Swiftly Tilting Planet that made me think, Hmmm... I'm not so sure about this. If I was going to do something of this sort, I'd do it this way (...there you have it in a phrase, the eternal/internal certainty that they have it right of writers everywhere...) -- and the result, somewhat later, was So You Want to Be a Wizard.
Plainly the general similarity in themes between SYWTBAW and L'Engle's early work has been noticed, for our books do often enough get mentioned in the same breath. It's a development that would have astounded me if I'd known about it when I first met her. That was twenty-some years ago, when my first editor at Delacorte (where SYW... debuted) took me to a party that was being thrown by the publisher in Madeleine's honor. We had a few moments to sit down and chat, after we were introduced, and I went into a strange sort of shock/horror after a few minutes when she said to me, "By the way, I read your new one. I liked it very much. What's the next one about? When are we going to see it?"
The shock/horror was, I now think (a) because no new writer really expects one of the greats to say something like that to them, no matter how you may daydream about it: (b) because up until that point I had given the idea no consideration whatsoever. Srsly. If there are now eight-going-on-nine books in the Young Wizards series, I think we can all blame L'Engle, because I went home to Philly that night thinking "Hmmmm....", and had a long, long look toward at the Great South Bay and the Atlantic past the Jersey wetlands as the Metroliner headed south. Deep Wizardry, surely, has L'Engle's shadow lying long over it. I will very much miss the sense that the woman who cast it is still just over the horizon, still working.
..But if life, and life after, have gone the way she expected... she still is. (sigh) Take care, cousin. See you later.
Fri, Aug. 31st, 2007, 01:36 pm
A note in passing: for those hunting cheap flights in Europe
Check out this website, which specializes in nothing but the low cost airlines:
If it can't find a carrier for a route you're interested in, it brings up a whole sheaf of other travel sites for you to search. Some of these I'd never even heard of (which is saying something).
There are also blogs associated with the site (the "wing blog" seems a little outdated, but the "wheel blog" and "bed blog" are more up to date). One interesting link that came up on the bed blog, btw: TabletHotels, "Hotels for Global Nomads". I always like it when a site offers me hotels I've stayed at and loved (it just showed me, in one of the hotel images, the very table I sat at in the dining room when I was last there). Check out this one, for example, attached to a famously cool spa facility I've wanted to go to for a long time.
(sigh) No time right now for any kind of travel except the virtual. But it's fun to be able to look at these things and think about when things get a little quieter, a couple of months down the line...
Mon, Jul. 23rd, 2007, 07:13 pm
Losses at home
Peter's mother is extremely ill with heart and kidney failure and will not survive more than a short time. With this in mind, my online activitities are going to be severely curtailed until at least the end of July. Please bear with me while we attempt to deal with our loss.
Tue, Jul. 17th, 2007, 07:59 pm
So bitter, so bizarre
Some of you will know approximately where we live in Ireland, so I am sorry to tell you that this story is locally germane:
Post mortems due on County Wicklow bodies
They were our neighbors. Not the kind you're close to, perhaps (though they were close to many others), but they were the kind you'd always wave "good morning" to as you walked or biked past their property.
And now, suddenly, gone: they and their son. This is too odd, for our part of the world.
Meanwhile, I am already tired of the local media presence. You really don't want the satellite vans double-parked down the road from you, and the people banging on your door trying to manufacture a story out of nothing.
(sigh) And I think about the family's defensive but not deadly sheepdog, which used to run out at me when I was walking and threaten me to Stay Away From the Gate. Who feeds him, now?...
Tue, Jul. 17th, 2007, 10:41 am
Home life update
Last night we got back from visiting Peter's mum in the hospital up north...and it's an understatement to say that neither of us were happy to see a woman previously so vital looking so frail, and half the time fighting for every breath.
Now this morning came a message from Peter's sister saying that she'd been called to the hospital because Mum had taken a turn for the worse...and the consultant who's been handling Mum's case has said that there's not much they can do for her now but "keep her comfortable." This is unhappy news. I suspect we may have to go back upNorth again rather quickly: and if this happens, work and (obviously) blogging will have to take a back seat for a time. Please, everybody understand. I'll do my best to keep you all posted as events transpire, but our internet access up there is spotty.
Any spare prayers would be very welcome right now.
Wed, May. 23rd, 2007, 11:27 am
Wed, May. 23rd, 2007, 11:10 am
Three concepts I wasn't expecting to see in the same sentence any time soon
Thu, May. 17th, 2007, 01:33 pm
And now for a word about my gall bladder
But only because all you nice people keep asking. (If you don't want to read a few paragraphs of what my mother used to refer to, in other people, as "the organ recital", for Ghu's sake look away now.)
Short version: I'm ok, and improving as we get control of the situation. I am no longer incapacitated / bedridden / completely useless.
Longer version: Tom Lehrer was right to call the gall bladder "one of the more important technological advances since the invention of the joy buzzer and the dribble glass." Especially in its predictability once it starts acting up.
It's pretty much a given, now, that I've got gallstones, and that my gall bladder is having trouble with them. The ultrasound and Xray to determine how many / how big the stones are is still a week off. Right now the situation is being managed with rigid diet control (particularly of fats) and drugs for pain relief. (Nothing fancy, fortunately.) While I sit around being alternately amused and annoyed at myself for having spent the last year or year and a half thinking that this was a recurrent back problem which would go away by itself, or (sometimes) after taking an aspirin.
If there's an ongoing frustration, it's that it is sometimes hard to tell what'll set off an attack (which involves 6-10 hours of extreme internal discomfort, accompanied by bloating, cramps and other minor joys). I am, as it were, my own test tube: put something in, hold your breath and see what hapens. What can't I put in? Oh, nothing much, just most of the foods I really like. Any significant amount of butter, full-fat cheese or sour cream. [Which I couldn't have anyway until I get some Lactaid in here, as I am now also at least lactose-maldigestive if not entirely intolerant.] Chocolate. Eggs. Some red meats. Yes, but which ones? Argh, there goes another 6-10 hours. And so on.)
(sigh) Enough of that. I'm getting caught up on book shipping (for those of you who're curious, I'll be mailing you today / tomorrow with tracking numbers, etc) and other work (yes, The Big Meow) and all the things I ought to be doing rather than lying in bed groaning.
Anyway, folks, thanks for your concern, it's been much appreciated.
Thu, May. 17th, 2007, 12:43 pm
The Young Wizards discussion forums have lost a steadfast moderator and a good friend. Peter Murray died yesterday in hospital in the UK.
He is going to be so missed by the many Forum members to whom he was guide, mentor and fellow jokester in chat, an endless source of useful advice on the Forums, and an constant bringer-of-order-out-of chaos generally -- especially as regards his ongoing work on the timeline of the Young Wizards universe (which at least he knew was in the early stages of being revised, with his work being significant in the upcoming revisions to the first three volumes).
Rest well, cousin: see you around.
Wed, May. 2nd, 2007, 02:56 pm
To those folks who have outstanding requests for books that still need to be dealt with: Please bear with me for a day or so. I spent most of yesterday and some of today dealing with what I now discover was a gall bladder attack... and frankly I'm not in the best of shape right now.
(mutter) More shortly, after the ultrasound. Apologies for the interruption in service.
Wed, May. 2nd, 2007, 10:21 am
Attn: Flickr members: A game to play in this weekend