The Last Day

For the last day of my writing retreat, I opted to spend the afternoon at the Cape Cod National Seashore. Communing with the ocean where the waves meet the shore has always been, for me, a great way to center my thoughts and find perspective. A great way to remember that I am something small (not unimportant, but small) in a reality much greater. A great place to listen for the whispers of God.

When I’m away from the ocean, I forget how beautiful it is! And today I found possibly the greatest beauty in a place I’d seen before—stopped and looked at briefly before—but never taken the time to walk around and absorb. That’s the salt marsh estuary behind the National Seashore Visitors Center.

There’s something about the peacefulness of a salt marsh that’s almost spiritual. It’s God-breathed, teeming with life, a biologist’s dream, and a remarkable buffer between land and sea that has elements of both. Grass, fish, birds, amphibians, fresh water and salt, the open ocean just beyond the protective spit of sand. You can almost close your eyes and see the millions of years of geologic change and biological evolution that brought you this place of quiet ferment, this thing of beauty that helps clean the sea and protect its young, and at the same time shields the land from the sea’s fury. On this occasion I didn’t see any charismatic birds or other animals, but in quiet contemplation I did feel the hint of divinity, and of the deep works of time.

Interestingly, I also perceived more clearly some things that have been eluding me, details that might well be important to The Chaos Chronicles, and to the story behind The Reefs of Time. In the salt marsh I saw some things I needed to know about the translator (this will make sense only if you’ve read at least one of the books), and even about the enemy that makes life in the galaxy so fraught with danger in this new book. I also realized I probably need to add a couple of new chapters in the next draft, chapters set way back in deep, deep time. So you see, sometimes the quiet, personal times like standing and contemplating the ocean’s edge are exactly what the writer of far-flung futures in space needs. I’m grateful to have had the chance.

Here are a few more pictures. The open ocean over the dunes was pretty wonderful, too.

(And considering that I was holding my cellphone camera at arm’s length and aiming blind, I thought the “self portrait of the artist” came out pretty well.)

Images from a Writing Retreat

No, not of me writing. How boring would that be! Here’s some of what I saw and did during break times.

A few shots of my surroundings at the motel, with kibitzers:

Ducks, who later started grouping casually around me,
as they discovered my M&Ms
Geese (but you knew that)

A lone hen

 
Rollerblading along the Cape Cod Canal, after a hard afternoon of writing and relaxing:

Sagamore Bridge from bike path

Looking toward eastern end of canal
 The Cape Cod Central Railroad’s scenic lunch train:
Train in Hyannis station

Going the distance on rollerblades, to the other end of the canal, 13 miles roundtrip. Followed by an excellent meal of fish & chips & local IPA.

Bourne Bridge from bike path
Railroad Bridge near west end of canal

Alas, I must pack up today and bring it to an end! It’s been great!

Writing Retreat, August 2012

This week finds me once more on Cape Cod, holed up this time in a motel (B&B too expensive), hoping to log some serious writing time on The Reefs of Time. Actually, at least half the goal is to give myself some solitude for a few days, so I might start hearing my thoughts over the already-fading din of everyday life. Mental restoration is the first step, and at least as important as the words I hope to get written. If you’re hoping to see the finished book (as I am), thank Allysen for arranging for me to come down here and press Reset.

I don’t expect to post much online while I’m here, but coming soon is an announcement about my new book of short stories. The work is done, and the announcement is already written, coiled, and ready to strike at the preordained moment.

Now, if you’ll excuse me while I look for the Reset button…

What’s Up with My Writing Projects?

It’s been a while since I reported on what I’m doing, writing-wise. Here’s the short form:

Chaos 5: The Reefs of Time — Yah, it’s coming; it’s coming. Piece after piece keeps falling into place. It’s long and it’s complex, and there are a lot of things in it  that I could not figure out beforehand; I could only discover these things by pushing at the story and the characters—that is, by writing and sometimes taking wrong turns into blind alleys. That process involves many hours of pounding my head and pulling my hair. Hell of a way to run a railroad, but there you have it. The train called The Reefs of Time will come in.

Audiobooks — Production at Audible has already begun on the books they’ve licensed for audiobooks. These guys move fast; I’ll give them that. I’ve recorded pronunciations of character and place names and like that for three of the books. And three narrators are now at work on From a Changeling Star, Down the Stream of Stars, and The Infinity Link.

Going Alien — My second short story collection is near to completion. I just have to put final touches on the new introductions, and finish proofreading the stories. My able assistant Ann has already done the lion’s share of the formatting work, so the conversion to ebook will be quick. The launch is planned for August 28. I’m enjoying rereading the stories, some of which I have not looked at in many years. Good sign. Here’s what it’s going to look like.

And that’s where I am in the writing projects!

On the Web Radio!

That’s where you’ll find me, this Thursday evening August 2, from 9:20 to 10:00 Eastern time! The show is called The Author’s Corner, with host Elaine Raco Chase, at www.trianglevarietyradio.com. It’s a call-in show, and I’ll be talking about my writing and books, and pretty much whatever she asks me. So if you’d like to chat with actual spoken words—almost as if we were talking in person—check it out! Go to www.trianglevarietyradio.com, then click on blog talk radio (a silver bar, halfway down the page). You’ll find a phone number for calling in. Listen to the whole show, from 8 to 1030 p.m., Eastern time! (Forget the boring Olympics—they’ll be on your DVR.)

If you must watch adorable and athletic divers and gymnasts instead of listening to our scintillating conversation, podcasts will be available after the show. (But really, you aren’t going to watch the Olympics Sunday night instead of the Mars landing, are you? I didn’t think so. This is similar.)

Edit: You can listen to the interview as a podcast, by clicking this link:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/trianglevariety/2012/08/03/authors-corner-review-with-host-elaine-raco-chase

Several other authors precede me in the interview. My own section starts at around 78:30.

Reality and Other Fictions

All these years, I’ve been telling you wonderful people about my novels, with scarcely a mention of my short stories. That’s because my short stories have been few and far between. Nevertheless, I’ve published eleven shorter pieces over the years, in publications as varied as Science Fiction Age, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and the Boston Sunday Herald. And now I’ve collected them.

The first of two collections is Reality and Other Fictions, now on sale at Book View Café, for the low, low price of $2.99! Here’s what it looks like:

Here’s the blurb:

Explore an Earth being devoured by entropy, in the ultimate runaway environmental crisis. Dive the depths of the sea to prevent the mother of all oil spills. Rocket into space as a tourist. Mine the asteroids with your enhanced border collie, in the can-do spirit of classic science fiction. They include Carver’s first published short fiction, and his most recent. With new introductions, all from the author of The Chaos Chronicles and Eternity’s End.

If you’ve been following my blog recently, you’ll have seen my mention of some new stories going up for sale as singles. Some of those are in this collection. Here’s the contents page:

  • Reality School: In the Entropy Zone
  • Of No Return
  • Seastate Zero
  • Rocket Ride
  • Dog Star

“Seastate Zero” is available only in this collection, as are the insightful introductions I’ve lovingly written for each story and for the book as a whole. At least, I hope you’ll find them insightful, or at least interesting. I do share some memories I’ve never written down before about how these stories came to be, and how they fit into my career.

My second collection, Going Alien, is scheduled for late August. It pulls together all of my short work that involves… can you guess? Aliens.

For both of these books, I am indebted to Gretchen, the high school student (now graduated, and valedictorian!) who typed and formatted a good number of them from old paper copies, while helping me as an intern. And equally to Anna King, who provided extraordinary help in wrestling the final formatting into line. Not to mention Allysen, for catching some embarrassing typos and wordos at the eleventh hour. And finally, Vonda McIntyre, author and BVC founding member, who has been tirelessly helpful in getting this stuff up.

Available exclusively at BVC until July. After that, I’ll release it to the usual suspects.

I hope you’ll give it a try! (Vote for me!)

My Book View Café Launch!

Book View Café (BVC) is an authors collective of established writers who have joined forces to help each other publish their own backlists as ebooks. Names you might recognize include Ursula K. LeGuin, Vonda N. McIntyre, Katherine Kerr, Linda Nagata—and many more. As of June 19, I’m part of that list, and honored to be so. Here’s my page at BVC.

To celebrate my launch on BVC, I’m releasing my first-ever short story collection, Reality and Other Fictions. It’s on sale as I type this! For the rest of June, it’s going to be a BVC exclusive. Why? Because BVC is a great store filled with great authors, and it deserves enthusiastic support. If you buy a book from a favorite author at BVC, the author gets the highest percent of the money of any bookstore that’s not actually on an author’s website. Because people help each other so much in the whole process—everyone pitches in with their own particular skills—the production values are high. And the books are, of course, DRM-free, meaning no annoying copy protection to keep you from moving it from one device to another, regardless of type. If you want to convert your book to a different format, do so with our blessing.

Can you use these books on a Kindle or a Nook or a Kobo Reader or a Sony Reader?  Absolutely. (Just make sure you download the right format for your reader.)

By the way, BVC is not the same thing as Backlist eBooks, about which I’ve written in the past. The two groups have similar goals, and somewhat overlapping memberships. But Backlist eBooks primarily gathers writers together under one site for mutual help with marketing and promotion. Book View Café is more like a cooperative ebook small press, with its own store. It’s even beginning to distribute to libraries!

My next post, which I am going to start writing as soon as I’m done with this one, will tell you all about Reality and Other Fictions.

Larry Niven’s “Draco Tavern”

These days I do a lot of my reading via audiobooks downloaded from the library. It’s great; it lets me read while walking the dog, or doing housework. Lately I’ve been listening to a collection by master SF storyteller Larry Niven called, The Draco Tavern. I say master storyteller, but the pieces in this collection are largely not complete stories but brief vignettes, in which Niven tosses off ideas and visions of alien creatures like sparks from a sparkler. The Draco Tavern is a pub in Siberia, built to accommodate alien tourists from throughout the galaxy. Rick, the tavern owner, has myriad tales to tell of aliens he’s served, starting with the Chirpsithra, who opened the galactic trade route.

I’d recommend this book to any aspiring SF writer—not as an example of great story structure (emphatically not; since they’re mostly not complete stories), but as an example of how to imagine possibilities, and how to convey remarkable visions in remarkably few words. One of the hardest things for many new writers to master is how to get across futuristic or otherworldly or alien settings and characters, without getting bogged down in tedious detail. It’s a skill that requires a lot of practice, and it’s useful to study how others do it. Niven can toss off in a sentence a crystal picture that would take others a paragraph to tell, or a page. In his introduction to the collection, Niven remarks that one reason he wrote all these vignettes was for the practice, because he wanted to get better at it.

If writing is your thing, I’d take a look at this collection. I just bought an ebook copy myself. Here are just a few places you can pick it up for your collection:

Africa-themed Fantasy

Mary C. Aldridge is a writer you may not know, even though she was a Nebula finalist for one story, a Cauldron Award winner for another, and a winner of a Massachusetts Artists Foundation Fiction Fellowship for still another. The thing is, she hasn’t written nearly enough stories. A while back, I noted that she’d put some of her stories up for sale at Amazon and elsewhere. Now she’s gathered them into a collection that you can buy for a skinny $2.99 — a steal at the price.

If you like fantasy and African folklore, or just want to try something a little different, this could be just what you’re looking for.

Pick it up at Kindle / Nook / Smashwords (all formats)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 26