Passover

Going up to spend most of Passover with the folks, which is cool, but their computer goes into massive failure these days any time you try to use the internet. Grr. That means no hotmail and no livejournal for about a week, so I’ll talk to you guys when I get back. For those of you celebrating, happy Passover!

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The first shall be last

Went to Lunacon for the first time in years this weekend; Lunacon was my first con ever, and I kinda wanted to say goodbye to the Escher Hotel. I can’t believe the New York con is moving to New Jersey next year; kinda ironic.

So Susan and I went out early Saturday morning and had a blast. Really good editors panels with lots and lots of useful info and funny horror stories. I’ve got to say, working at a scholarly journal I don’t get nearly as many oddball submissions as the science fiction editors do. I’m a little envious. (Although there was that one guy who submitted religious poetry about the Statue of Liberty…) One of the editors commented that she left editing because she had gotten in hoping to learn the business from the inside so that she could break into writing herself. Instead she found she never had time to write. The worst part is, she’s far from alone. It’s the same story for most of the editors I know.

A couple of interesting panels on urban fantasy, gender in magic and anti-heroes. The anti-hero panel talked a bit about what the long-term impact of Columbine is going to be on the dark fantasy genre. It’s so frustrating that the bright pariahs in schools used to be told that the teasing would hone their talents and will and make them great writers or artists when they grew up, that that would be their revenge over the kids who humiliated them. Now they’re told they’re powder kegs who are likely to kill their classmates and go nowhere. So what does that do to both the potential pool of writers and the potential pool of their audience?

And most importantly, had fun with a buncha people I haven’t seen in a while. Ran into Merav and John, and got to hear Merav sing, which was a lovely treat. Saw a classmate of mine from Clarion, Dave Kirtley, who is doing some really good writing. And I had a great time showing Susan around her first convention. Nice to just do it for the day for once, make the experience relaxed instead of an endurance contest.

Squeak!

From Sherwood Smith’s review at Tangent Online:

Pause for micro-fiction from Lisa Feld in “Dangerous Game.” Micro indeed. The story is probably fifty words long, if that, but it’s a nifty zinger.

Yays! My first review!

Not-so-Fantastic

Does anyone know if there’s something going on with Fantastic Stories/Ed McFadden? I just got a story returned unopened, but there’s nothing on the website to indicate that they’ve suspended publication or that they’re no longer looking at unsolicited manuscripts. Any clues?

PJ’s Pancake House

The answer was staring me in the face all this time. I figured out how John gets recruited, and it’s not a Last Starfighter rip-off. I’m hoping to pound out chapter one on my lunch break today, and from there I’ve got a good enough head of steam to take me through the first quarter of the book! A lot of the first quarter was already written; I just have to adjust for corpses. (And man, how often do I get to say that?)

You could be an emu

Abandoning the cop story for a bit, going back to a series I started writing ages and ages ago: Dingo and Walker. I finally figured out that if I really hate the thought of writing the first two books of backstory in order to get to book three where stuff actually starts to happen, maybe I should redo the backstory and just start the series with book three. Took me a year and a half of beating my head against the wall to figure that out, cause writers are slow to see what’s right in front of their noses. Thank you, Adi, for finally asking the obvious question. And while I’m at it, thanks so much to Mab, who also critiqued an early draft of Dingo and Walker, and to Susan, whom I’ve lately been trading critiques with, and whose stories are splendid and ought to be published.

But in any case, that change creates two problems: First, I no longer have a beginning for the story without making it sound like The Last Starfighter, so I’m wracking my brain for a good beginning. (I can’t just start further on and come back to it because if I’m massively changing the backstory of an espionage thriller then how the protagonists meet and what they know of each other is HUGELY important.

Second, and this relates a little to the first problem, I’m having an interesting case of Dark City here. If you massively change people’s histories, their childhoods, their relationships to each other, will their personalities change? Are you the same person if you meet your father figure at age 22 instead of age 7, and have to limp along without him until then? Will you even still need him by then? If someone killed your friend’s girlfriend, instead of an anonymous stranger, can you still accept him as a good guy? If you’re a level-headed, easy-going guy who no longer has a space-cadet best friend, what on God’s green earth is going to make you dabble in the occult?

Just shove Sherlock off the damn cliff

Normally, when I get an idea for a story or a character, it’s in a burst of enthusiasm and discovery that carries me at least halfway through the writing process. Then there’s Maddie. She’s a fabulous idea I have for a supernatural detective. The only problem is that in order to write Maddie’s story, I would have to learn police procedure and write out about five or six books-worth of mysteries for her to solve, because that’s how long it’s going to take to flesh her out. And I really don’t want to give Maddie six years of my life, especially not for police procedurals, which I don’t care to read and would probably hate to write. (Maddie has to solve mysteries, either as a police officer or a social worker. I’ve tried changing her profession and writing it as a thriller or urban fantasy instead of a mystery and all she does then is sit around and get angsty.) Arthur Conan Doyle shoved Holmes off a cliff because he couldn’t stand him anymore, and the fans staged massive protests and made him bring Holmes back anyway. I never want my writing to get to that point.

That should be the end of the story; I’ve got other characters to hold my interest, and Maddie is hardly the first or even the most beloved character to fall by the wayside. Except Maddie won’t leave me alone. I’m not thinking up new and interesting bits of her life; I figured all those out weeks ago. I’m not writing out or plotting the book; it doesn’t interest me. But I can’t stop thinking about her. It’s driving me up the wall. Anyone know either how to shut her up or how to transform the character and plot so that I can write her down and shut her up that way?

My friends, you bow to no one

Wow. Just wow.

I was so tense when Lord of the Rings started winning all the lower categories, even in places where I thought Pirates did a better job, because I figured the Academy was apologizing for not giving them the heavyweight awards. Then they won best adaptation, and I’m thinking “Okay, I can live with that. It’s a sop to my dignity.” Then Peter Jackson won best director and I got up and cheered, because the Academy was saying that just because it was fantasy didn’t make it junk. Because they admitted he deserved their respect. That just validated everything I want to do with my life, writing fantasy and SF.

But when they won best picture, and they all stood up there, with the hobbits all in a row and Peter Jackson wielding the Oscar and the world at their feet, I just started to cry. I’ve never cried at an awards show before, I feel a little silly for doing it now. But it was so reminiscent of the scene where Aragorn and all of Middle Earth bow to the hobbits, when they recognize that these lowly people, who are so often dismissed, have done something truly incredible.