It’s “specials day” at BVC! My omnibus/box set, The Chaos Chronicles: Books 1-3, is on half-price special—at Book View Café only. Limit time only! If you don’t have it, go thou and take a peek. Like all of the books under my own imprint, it’s DRM-free, so you can give it as a gift with a clear conscience.
Mine isn’t the only book on sale, though. The specials include deals from Mindy Klasky, Jennifer Stevenson, Deborah J. Ross (Deborah Wheeler), and Madeleine Robins! Surely there’s something for every taste!
Lest you think that veteran (i.e., experienced, tempered, refined—don’t say old!) writers are immune to beginning writer mistakes, all I can say is, think again. It’s confession time here in the Star Rigger foundries, where we labor 24/7 converting raw words into story for our ravenous audience. I’m going to share some revealing facts.
My editor, in the course of a long email full of editorial suggestions, helpfully provided me with a list of words and phrases I used too often. Now, all writers have verbal tics—that is to say words and expressions that they use habitually, without even noticing. Turns out, I have my fair share. And with my editor’s list in hand, I used the Find functions in Scrivener and Word to, er, find them and see if I could root some out. Turns out I could—by deleting, by using other words, by recrafting sentences (usually making them stronger in the process). Here’s part of the list, followed by the number of times I used the expression initially (in the 268,000-word book), and then the number after I’d gone through and cleaned things up:
indeed 50 / 14
very 323 / 96
draw(n, ing) 68 / 28
drew 89 / 29
further 76 / 27
farther 31 / 43 (some furthers got corrected to farthers)
clench(ed) 27 / 7
knot(ted) 25 / 9
. And 546 / 209
Did I really use “very” that many times?? Turns out I did. Usually in phrases like “very much want to…” And the last one, in case it’s not clear, is sentences starting with “And”—not unlike this one. Sometimes that’s a very—um, an effective usage. Other times, it’s just lazy habit. I still haven’t gone through and looked for excessive em-dashes—or ellipses… but I will.
I spent literally days of the most tedious editing imaginable doing this. But it was necessary, and you will all be happier for it when you read the story, though if I did my job right, you will never notice.
Most of this happened when I was in Florida helping my brother. I was intending on my flight home to sprinkle all the deleted very’s and And’s and clenched fists out the window as bread crumbs for the birds and the fish below; but alas, I did not get a window seat. I’ll sell them to you for cheap.
I’ve been pretty quiet the last couple of weeks. That’s because I’ve been in Miami helping out my brother Chuck and his wife, following his recent surgery for cancer. It’s been a rocky recovery; he was in the hospital for a week longer than expected. Now he’s home, recuperating, with the additional help of Tntn (pictured) and Tntn’s brother Jahnghan. I hope he’ll be well enough for me to go home in a few days.
I‘ve been getting a lot of work done, anyway—working on the final editing of Reefs, with feedback from my editor. (More on that in a forthcoming post.)
Here’s a picture of Chuck, a month ago, receiving the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award.
It all started with the pair of timpani we rescued from a middle-school dumpster a year ago. I’ve been playing those, off and on, down in our basement, not letting my lack of knowledge about kettle drums stop me. But long, long ago, in my high school band in a galaxy somewhere, I put aside the clarinet one year to play snare drum in the marching band. I’ve long hankered to pick up the sticks again.
Well, it’s happened. The need for a respite after finishing work on the monster book, combined with the local drum store having a closing sale, led me to a practice pad. And in the way of all gateway drugs, that led to… a full drum kit—a Pyle PTED06 electronic tabletop kit, to be precise. I’ve been having a ball.
Let’s let the video speak for me. I present… The Star Rigger Drum Lab!
For the second time this year our mooncat, Moonlight, has gone through surgery for removal of skin cancer tumors. The first time, we didn’t know it was cancer, and only learned about it from the biopsy afterward. She’s 19 ½ years old, and the vet didn’t give her good odds to last long. But seven months later, although other tumors were still growing, she was still a happy and otherwise healthy cat. Dr. Parker said, “Ordinarily I wouldn’t even consider a second surgery on a cat this age. But this is one amazing cat.” This time he took tumors off three different locations, in one operation. Here are two of them.
This left us with a fashion problem—or, rather, how to keep her from licking or scratching at the sutures without resorting to a cone that would make her depressed. The answer: a two-piece suit. Two socks cut out to fit over her, one lengthwise over her head and torso, and one across the back of her shoulders to cover her front shoulder. Seems to work so far. And she seems in good spirits, doing A-okay on the first night of her recovery. And, I think she looks rather elegant. Don’t you?
This year’s World SF Convention is being held in San Jose, CA in a couple of weeks, and I’m sorry to say I will not be there. It’s an economic decision, not a political one. However, I was also part of the large number of people who got left off of programming this year. It’s a simple calculus: Can I afford to spend a couple of grand attending a convention that could otherwise be fun and interesting, but will net me no opportunity to build and connect with my audience? Not this year.
Side note: Having been to worldcons where I was turned away from programming, I can say that it’s a lousy feeling. In contrast, last year in Helsinki I got to do some great programming, and I came away feeling that I had contributed to the success of the con, and was appreciated, as well.
You may have read about the programming brouhaha this year, where many new writers and minority groups of various sorts felt overlooked by the program committee. I’m not close enough to the action to have any meaningful insight, except to say that, first, they are not the only ones to have felt overlooked. Second, I think any good programming effort has to find a way to make a place for both the young and the old, the bestselling and the newbie, the well-known and the little-known, all with the same degree of welcome. Many conventions do that successfully; I hope this year’s worldcon, with its hurried regrouping, manages as well. I’m sure it’s no easy task.
I’m not staying away in protest so much as disappointment. It just didn’t work out for me this year. Next year it’s in Dublin, and the year after in New Zealand! Here’s hoping!
We saw the B52s, Culture Club, and the Thompson Twins live in concert at the Wang Center in Boston last Friday night. (It was an early birthday gift from Lexi and Connor, who went with us.) It was great! Especially if you didn’t need to make out any of the song lyrics, or use your ears for anything for the rest of the night! Here, reproduced with surprising fidelity by my LG phone, is a brief (fair-use for review purposes only!) clip of the B52s climaxing their set with the song I introduced Lexi to, back when she was little…
Crank that up way past 11 on the biggest speakers you’ve got, and you’ll have a pretty accurate reproduction of the sound.
Between sets, I caught a candid of a couple of hardly-aging boomers checking out the action.
The final set was by headliner Boy George and Culture Club, and they were good, too—except their set featured laser-bright spotlights at the back of the stage, aimed straight into the retinas of the audience. So it was best if you weren’t planning to use your night vision for the rest of the weekend. Culture Club withheld the song we most wanted to hear until the third and final encore. Here, then, is a brief clip of Karma Chameleon, in High Fidelity…
I’m a little surprised to hear that the sound is actually clearer in these videos than it was going into my ears in the theater, past the foam earplugs that Lexi ran out and got us all. I think my ears just went into total overload from the jetwash blast of sound. Seriously, I wonder why the sound engineers think we’ll enjoy the music more if it’s too loud to hear. I think there’s a market out there for noise-reduction headgear that lets the sound through undistorted, but at a lower volume. My Bose ANR earbuds (which I didn’t think to bring) probably would have melted.
All that said, we had a great time reliving our youth with some actual youths!