Thursday, 31 March 2011

One gay soldier they can't kick out under DADT

This is a very moving testimonial of the parents of a gay soldier who died in Kandahar, Afghanistan. The sooner the military catches up with the rest of society, the better.

I've been reading with shock and horror about the "Kill Team" that randomly killed Afghan civilians. I mean, I *knew* shit like that was going on (yeah, I have my sources) - I just didn't know it was so systemic. That "Kill Team" made a lot of baby Talibs, congratulations.

Those two stories are almost impossible to bear right next to each other, but that, for me, is war. We see both the very best in people and the absolute worst. And the latter is *not* the gay soldier.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Call me Eagle Eyes

Friday I had LASIK - Wavefront-guided, because they promised me that my view might end up better than "good", so I figured what's good enough for snipers and astronauts is sure good enough for me.

One day after the operation (and the day *of* to operation was essentially a write-off), my vision was better than 20/20. One eye lags a bit, but the other more than compensates. I'm on a "three different eyedrops, four times a day" regime, and one of those drops need to be kept in the fridge (putting fridge-cold stuff in your eye is... special). But so far I'm following all the orders.

Things are still healing, and I have the "halo" effect, which means that sources of light blur in the darkness - but I'm not nightblind (another possible outcome post-operation), and I don't have "ghosts". However, my short-range vision (the area from here to the computer screen) is a bit hazy. Apparently that'll fix itself once the brain has recovered from the shock of no longer dealing with short-sighted eyes. Also, my ability to focus fluctuates a bit. Sometimes, things are clear, then they are hazy again. But the far distance is great, so I'm perfectly entertained looking out of the window, noticing all the little details.

It'll take a few weeks or even months for the eyes to completely heal, but I'm in no rush. I can write, I can work, my eyes just heal at their own time. So far, money very, very well spent.

On the writing front, I'm making good progress on the boxer story, which is more than 30k now and might just turn out to be 40-50k. Writers not updating their blogs means they are writing more stories.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Congratulations to Stevie Carroll

I just got this email:

"I found out today that the winner of this year's James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award has been announced over at, as well as those books that made it to the Honor List and the Long List.

And look what's on the long list: Stevie Carroll, “The Monitors” (Echoes of Possibilities, edited by Aleksandr Voinov, 2010). Much thanks to Jill and to Aleks for having faith in my story. I'm still writing: I just tend towards longer stories in general and they take a while when you're as much of a perfectionist as I am.

I am seriously chuffed that my little piece of SF erotica made it so far in such a big award, against stories from the big publishers.

My story, 'The Monitors', in Echoes of Possibilities isn't exactly your standard m/f erotic romance. Here's the blurb so you can see why:

Echoes of Possibilities: Four unconventional m/f erotic romances set in very different futures. Including a trans character, a cyborg, an alien, a female ex-president of the United States and their equally remarkable lovers."

Congratulations, Stevie. I loved the story and hope it gets all the sales it deserves.

Finding sea shells and running dogs

I'm in the happy place. The place they call "Flow". It's a mystical place where words just appear on the screen, and you write 3,100 words a day (like I did yesterday). My brain's vision has narrowed to the world of Nathaniel and Brook, and no excuses.

I don't see anything else, I don't really care about anything else (what, they are talking openly about assassinating Quaddafi - who cares?). I'm swept up in the irresistible force that is a New Book in Full Swing. This - when the book just flows through you from somewhere and goes somewhere, leaving traces of black on white as it passes, it the Best Thing Ever. It's the closest to a mystical experience I ever get. Minus a few creepy moments...but that might be for a different blog post.

Authors love sharing. I do. I love talking about the new book, I love sending people my various WIPs. There are some people that think that I do so to show off. ("Look how awesome I am, I've written MORE WORDS THAN YOU YESTERDAY!") Others don't know how to respond. If I send them the current WIP - what do I want from them? Feedback? Praise?

The thing is, none of these are true. I share with other writers because they are my friends (and it's not a competition - anybody entering a competition with me is like a kid racing a dog to "win". The dog just runs for the fun of it, which is exactly why I write. I write to write, not to compete).

I share with my friends and some readers because I'm all excited myself. I'm walking along this beach and there's this beautiful seashell. It's unique, and it's all mine, and I'm full of a sense of wonder and I'm like "wow, look what I found". It's not about my ego, it is, really, about that sea shell. I used to need the praise and ego-stroking, but I'm big now, and I get my self worth from myself. I've gotten most of my ego out of the way, really. I still read my reviews, maybe twice a month, and a good review is great, but none of that has any bearings on looking for and finding the sea shells.

No feedback, no one-star review, no snide remark can get to me when I hit the Flow (or rather, it hits me). The story demands it's written. Nobody can pay me to write, nobody can pay me not to write. No amount of praise or jiggling will get me to write anything long if I'm not feeling it.

So, yeah, the boxer story has reached that critical momentum now at 26k where nothing I could do would stop it. Where I'm racing time because I'll have the LASIK procedure on Friday and fully expect to be blind all weekend and in pain, and part of me wants to push the story out before I lose my sight, if even for a few hours. Getting interrupted in my Flow is really tough. But there's no way I can write the remaining 20k in three days.

As to LASIK itself, I'll just face in head-on. I'm nervous about it, but by comparison, I assume going to the dentist for something major is by far worse. And then it's sorted for the rest of my life.

Meanwhile, I'm "eating miles", as the adapted German expression goes. Just getting out as many words as I can, while I can. Work at work is slow again today, so I may at least manage another thousand words or so.

Monday, 14 March 2011

No, I'm not serving the wank & Scorpion news

I have the blurb for Scorpion. This was re-written about four times and the collaborative effort of seven people.

You learn your wisest lessons from your enemies. Assuming, of course, you survive the encounter.

Kendras is a casualty of war: injured, penniless, and quite possibly the last surviving member of the only family he's ever known—the elite fighting force known as the Scorpions. When a
steel-eyed stranger offers him medicine and shelter in exchange for submission and a secret task, Kendras has no choice but to accept. He is a Scorpion; he’ll do whatever it takes to survive.

But his true goal is to rebuild the Scorpions. Neither Steel’s possessive nature nor Kendras’s shattered foot can keep him from finding the last of his brothers... or the mysterious leader of the Scorpions, a man who held Kendras’s heart long before Steel tried to take it for himself. The goal is simple, the situation anything but. To rescue his leader and escape from Steel for good, Kendras must fight through a morass of politics and intrigue, where enemies are
allies and even allies have hidden agendas.

Cover, map and other stuff forthcoming once I have it.

In other news, I managed to get 800 words out yesterday. I have a plot for the boxer story and I have another idea for another historical, but I'll write that later - possibly next year.

I also have a bunch of stuff to edit for friends and some for money, and hope to make some serious progress on those, too. All that editing and rewriting has thrown my schedule out of whack a bit, but I'll catch up with the rest of my life, too.

And I bought presents for my partner (birthday on Friday). I hope he likes the Kinect. Me, I just love tech wizardry like that. And I noticed that Gears of War 3 is due 20 September. I can't WAIT.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

For the first time in months, I'm caught up

Subjectively speaking, this is the first time since the beginning of the year that I have time on my hands. There's no urgent "needs doing yesterday" stuff on my desk. Nada. I don't have any of my own novels to edit for publication. (Doesn't mean I couldn't grab one from the drawer and rework it for submission - but no, I'm not going there.)

So, everything's off and gone. I finished the final line edits of "Scorpion" last week. After that, it was the "sanity check" for "Father of all Things", and I still found stuff. We also had to fill in cover spec sheets for both books (submitting artwork and ideas). And the last couple days, I've agonized over the blurb for "Scorpion". The final version of the line edits of "Father of all Things", went out this morning. The "Scorpion" blurb went out today, one day late.

I have loads of email I need to respond to. Royalty statements to organize (tax year ends in April). I have several ideas for new novels/stories. I bought a pile of books for research. I have three advanced works in progress, two of which need research.

I've fallen behind on blogging. Fallen off the face of the earth while wrestling with a pile of work. I have a contract to sign. A brain to recover. A desk to clean. More than six hundred THOUSAND words to edit for "Special Forces".

Part of me wants to go to bed.

On the way to London today (I managed to meet a friend in Foyles and not acquire a *single* book), I read what I have for the boxer story and "Scorpion 2". And there's some very good writing going on there. So, I'm hoping to do some work on either Scorpion part 2 or the boxer. Iron Cross still needs more research.

That's really the plan for the rest of the year - finish those three. It might even work out.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Three day weekend

I've taken today off to have enough time to tackle the edit of "Scorpion", which is due by Monday. I just sent off the cover specs for the book, which is always a bit of a struggle. All the images in my head don't translate well into actual visual images. Clashes are inevitable.

In this case, I had a very good visual model for Kendras, which I sent in. And the title, "Scorpion", really lends itself very well for at least one image. :) I don't know if my artist will roll with it, but a real life block or Emperor scorpion should play a prominent role.

In an y case, the next three days will mean a lot of knuckling down and working in the suggestions of my two betas to improve the book. I think I'll add a few thousands words in total so it's really smooth. I've also noticed some "pet words" and "pet expressions" that somehow sneaked into my style. These need to go.

The "danger" of this is that it'll give me a lot more impetus to write the sequel (and possibly a prequel, too - I don't feel like I'm done with that world, or the Scorpions). The "memory" they are using gives me a good excuse to keep writing about them, for one. (Like I need an excuse).

I'm in research mode for the boxer story. I finally wrote an outline two days ago (at work, a very quiet day). But I cant' read as much as I want to. Edits to do, books to finalize. Editing tends to get in the way of writing. I sometimes wish I could just write a book and hand it over for everything else - final edits, covers, blurbs, marketing. But of course that's an illusion. I already have so much help from my "test readers" and "feedbackers", I'd feel ungrateful if I was asking for anything more than that. (But maybe that would be the only incentive to really land a bestseller or five - the team of people that takes care of the nitty-gritty for me... hmmmmm, will have to consider that).

Other than that, nothing. I'm spending the free time at work editing and outlining creative work, which, as far as my boss is concerned, is editing and all editing is practice. So, yeah, I'm spending the time writing style sheets and learning more about copy-editing. There are some additional qualifications that I might go for, but that has another year or two. Right now, I'm in the perfect place, especially for the writing.

Right. Now off to edit/rewrite 70k words in three days. Should be fun.