Touching Base

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I’ll have an update for you soon on progress with the book, end of wrestling season for my daughter, beginning of drama and cosmology season for my other daughter, and my piercingly wise observations about the state of the world. But now I’m getting set to head downtown to one of the big Boston SF conventions (Boskone), where I’ll be doing panels and signing books and stuff. If you’re in the area, I’ll be signing (sez the schedule here) tomorrow, Saturday, at 1:00 p.m.—and giving away a half dozen more reading copies of Battlestar Galactica.

Later.

Forthcoming Appearances

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I realized I hadn’t updated the Appearances page on my web site in ages, so I’ve done that now. Here’s the list of conventions and conferences I plan to be at between now and this summer:

I’m scheduled to attend the following upcoming conventions:

  • Feb. 17-19 — Boskone (Boston, MA)
  • March 24-26 — I-con (Stony Brook University, Long Island, NY)
  • July 7-9 — Readercon (Burlington, MA)

I’ll be participating in programming such as panels, autograph sessions, and whatever else the programming committees ask me to do. Please stop by and say hello!

I’ll also be a guest instructor at:

Hi. I’m Still Here!

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That’s about the longest I’ve gone without posting, and I’d like to say it’s because I’ve been so successfully cranking away on Sunborn. And while indeed I have been working on Sunborn, it’s been slow progress. Life has been very full on the family front: wrestling meets with my older daughter (who is now a junior in high school), various homeschooling activities with my younger daughter (eighth grade, but just starting to tackle a college intro course in cosmology, which she is auditing), new job for my wife, and…well, it’s all great stuff. The only down side is, when I do sit down to write, I’m having to reach hard to find creative energy.

So I’ll be leaving this to get back to that in a moment, but I wanted to record some stray thoughts prompted by today’s reading. Followers of the comic strip Get Fuzzy—and I’m as big a fan as they come—have no doubt been enjoying the last week’s worth of strips featuring Bucky as a budding screenwriter, and Rob as his source of feedback. If you don’t get it in your local paper, read it online. You might start with the February 1 strip, and work your way forward. (How not to workshop your writing!)

The Washington Post online today points to a very interesting article from PC World, Hollywood vs. Your PC, Round 2. In brief, the digital video equipment in our near future is going to be full of barricades to prevent us from recording desirable content on TV. (Same with high-def radio.) Digital rights management being pushed by the entertainment industry will screw the consumer, in order to guarantee continued huge profits to the content providers. (Probably not to the writers behind the content providers, but that’s another discussion.) Sony’s recent escapade with CD protection could be just an opening round. As one pundit put it, the only way to prevent it might be for consumers to just refuse to buy the equipment they’re getting ready to offer us. (Not a big personal issue there for me. Any piece of entertainment electronics over $200 is unlikely to make it into our house in the near future. So we won’t be buying high-def real soon, anyway. But I’m sure going to keep recording those great old movies on Turner Classic, while I can.)

Okay, I said I was getting back to the book, and that’s what I’m gonna do. So long, for now!

Battlestar Galactica Audiobook

I have finally received my copies of the audiobook edition of my novel Battlestar Galactica: the Miniseries. It’s read by Jonathan Davis, and it sounds good! (Well, the first ten minutes sound good, which is what I’ve listened to.) If you enjoy audiobooks, you might like to give it a try. (It is abridged, I should point out.)

This is the first of my books to be put into audiobook format, so it’s a new experience for me. It’s also the first time I’ve had one of my books abridged, and that takes a little getting used to. The method was not, as I expected, to go through and remove phrases and shorten sentences. Instead, they simply removed entire sentences, probably about one in every four or five. I think it works okay, though to my (prejudiced) ear, there is something lost. Still, it’s instructive how much you can cut and still have it work. I don’t know who did the cutting.

Note, I’m still calling the novel “the Miniseries,” because that’s what it is, notwithstanding the fact that someone along the way—certainly without asking me—took that informative subtitle off the cover of the book. At first they changed it to “the original hit series,” and when I pointed out how misleading that was, they took it off, but didn’t restore “the Miniseries.” I hope no one is confused by the packaging into thinking that the novel reflects the series that followed. It doesn’t. Some future novel might, though.

Autographed Books Make Great Gifts

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Lots of people like to give personalized, autographed books for special occasions (like Christmas). I have most of my books available for sale, including the majority of the out-of-print titles, and I’m happy to sign and personalize any copy that’s ordered directly from me.

Between now and Christmas, I’m offering a 15% discount on the price of any book that’s listed on my web site. You can see a price list at http://www.starrigger.net/order_blank.htm. (I’m coming in a little late with this, I know. But better late than never, I hope.) Most books are at cover price before the discount. Some out-of-print titles in short supply are priced higher.

If you’d like to take advantage of this offer, just subtract the 15% and tell me it’s because of this offer. This is not a high-tech operation, unless you consider Paypal to be high tech. (Hm. OK, I guess it is, when you get right down to it. But I don’t have a shopping cart or anything like that—just an order blank you can print out and mail, or send by email.)

I now return you to your regularly scheduled wait for a new blog entry.

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

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The writing retreat was fabulous. I got more writing done per day there than I had been getting done in a long time at home, and that’s on top of spending time out hiking and enjoying sand, wind, and sea of Cape Cod. I’m back home now, and the trick is going to be finding a way to keep it up.

The carrot on a stick is in front of me, though. (Or maybe it’s a whip at my back.) My editor has put Sunborn in the schedule for fall of 2007, which means he needs it turned in by fall of 2006. Which sounds like a long way off, but trust me, for a long book with serious issues, it’s not. So I am hard at work. And must leave off the blog for now.

Writing Retreat

Wow. There’s nothing like getting away from the daily grind and sitting in a beautiful location. Near the ocean. Fire in a fireplace. Peace and solitude. (The jacuzzi turned out to be at another place, where I am not; but that’s okay, I don’t even mind.) I’m already making better progress on the book. Plus, I spent a couple of hours walking along the salt marsh and the beach, watching crows, playing chicken with the waves (and losing). This is great. I should do it more often.

Something about a fire in a fireplace and writing: they go together like, I don’t know, wine and cheese. (Hey, there’s an idea…)

Great Book on Writing

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I’ve just finished reading a wonderful book on writing. It’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott. It’s not a new book; it was published in 1994, but I had never seen it. The reason I started reading it is that my younger daughter, Julia, was assigned it for a fiction-writing workshop. I browsed through the book like a good dad and was immediately hooked. It’s not so much about the mechanics of writing or getting published—though it offers plenty of good advice—as it is about the experience and the mindset of writing, and of living. It’s hilarious, it’s heartfelt, it touches on every insecure nerve a writer has ever felt, and it’s encouraging. (I, feeling blocked, picked up an Amazon-reader-recommended book on writer’s block at the same time, and found that I kept picking up Bird by Bird instead.) Some excerpts:

Getting Started:

The very first thing I tell my new students on the first day of a workshop is that good writing is about telling the truth. We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason they write so very little.

Short Assignments:

E.L. Doctorow once said that “writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice about writing, or life, I have ever heard.

Polaroids:

Writing a first draft is very much like watching a Polaroid develop. You can’t—and, in fact, you’re not supposed to—know exactly what the picture is going to look like until it has finished developing. First you just point at what has your attention and take the picture… The film emerges from the camera with a grayish green murkiness that gradually becomes clearer and clearer, and finally you see the husband and wife holding their baby with two children standing beside them. And at first it all seems very sweet, but then the shadows begin to appear, and then you start to see the animal tragedy, the baboons bearing their teeth. And then you see a flash of bright red flowers…that you didn’t even know were in the picture when you took it, and these flowers evoke a time or a memory that moves you mysteriously. And finally, as the portrait come into focus, you begin to notice all the props surrounding these people, and you begin to understand how props define us and comfort us, and show us what we value and what we need, and who we think we are.

Jealousy:

Of all the voices you’ll hear on KFKD [the voices in your head], the most difficult to subdue may be that of jealousy. Jealousy is such a direct attack on whatever measure of confidence you’ve been able to muster. But if you continue to write, you are probably going to have to deal with it, because some wonderful, dazzling successes are going to happen for some of the most awful, angry, undeserving writers you know—people who are, in other words, not you.

If you have any interest in writing, whether you’re a beginner or a pro, I highly recommend it.


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