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Worldcon/Loncon 3 day 0

xmas me
Getting here was definitely An Adventure. The Docklands Light Railway is accessible, but finding the lift to get to the accessible part took the combined efforts of seven helpful tourists going round and round and round. And then things got REALLY interesting.

Eventually, however, I did reach the hotel, my extremely elaborate bathroom, and Worldcon, and a Sylvia! We got our badges - FYI, in the unlikely event you are at Worldcon and reading this and not Twitter, the programme participant ribbons aren't here yet, but should be here this afternoon - and then pretty much immediately ditched the entire convention for the cable car ride and Guardians of the Galaxy.

Guardians of the Galaxy, btw, is a really fun film. I want a little Groot. Can I have one?

We did a touch more conventioning afterwards in the sense that we had dinner with some other attendees, before I had to collapse again.

London: the continuing story

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So Sunday was not a great day: by noon, I felt that if I heard the phrases "this lift is not in service" or "diversion" once more I was going to cry. This was entirely apart from the growing problem of trying to get to a disabled bathroom (see lift thing). I gave up, had a hellish time getting back to the hotel ("diversion"!), napped, tried again, got dizzy, and really gave up. The entertaining part was stealing WiFi from all of the wheelchair inaccessible Starbucks. A photo essay is coming once I am back home.

I was about to try to flee London altogether for about anywhere else on Monday (France sounds lovely) but as I wrote here, I was determined not to let the London buses totally defeat me. Plus, I had exactly three things that I'd really wanted to do: the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace and Platform 9 3/4. AND I had plans to meet up with fellow writer Fabio Fernandes at some point, and the meet up plans did not say "France."

So, after resting for a long while, off I went to the Tower of London.

I can't take the Tube, so, buses. This has its good points - you see a lot along the way - and its bad points: bus transfers, and the way the bus sounds an emergency alarm when you try to get on or off it. Having said that, Orange County bus systems could learn one thing from London buses: wheelchair users aren't strapped in, which saves everybody time.

Anyway: Tower of London!

It had been twenty years since I'd been there, almost long enough to feel as if I were visiting it for the first time. Which, as I soon realized as I went BUMP BUMP BUMP BUMP and then BUMP BUMP over it, was actually fairly accurate - seeing the Tower by wheelchair is a very different experience.

Since wheelchair users can't access about 60 percent of the Tower, I got a discount. Then BUMP BUMP.

The Tower is currently - celebrating? Remembering? I can't think of the right word - World War I - with a display of metal poppies filling the moat area and various World War I costumed figures wandering around. This was moving, and fascinating, and also, BUMP BUMP.

And bump.

Thanks to that I spent a lot more time listening to World War I stuff than I probably ordinarily would have - it provided nice resting points.

I was tempted to stay below, but a chorus of protests insisted that I get pushed up to the upper levels, so BUMP BUMP past the lines for the crown jewels and BUMP BUMP (you might sense a theme here) As I noted on Twitter afterwards, you don't really realize how big that Tower is until you bump your way through it.

Alas, the Chapel was closed for artistic renovations, but, in an attempt to slow down the bumps, I took pictures, pretended to commune with Anne Boleyn's ghost, and completely missed the approaching clouds. A yeoman warder DID, however, and spotting me and another wheelchair user told us that since two wheelchair users were currently in the only other accessible indoor area, we would instead go to the Crown Jewels.

I am sworn to secrecy on this next bit, except to say, SECRET ENTRANCE. THAT felt like a castle.

It also meant that I got to see the Crown Jewels after all. I must say that the most impressive part of this, for me, wasn't the crowns, but the gilt plate created for the later banquets. So that was cool. And afterwards, another yeoman whispered a great secret to me: that if I headed over to St. Katherine's Docks and followed his very specific instructions, there was a lift.

At this point I did not have any great faith in lifts, but I am glad I did this: that was probably my favorite area of London so far, even if I didn't actually find the lift.

Then it was back to the hotel to collapse a bit and regain my humanity before meeting with Fabio. We chatted. We stopped for dinner. We kept chatting. A chainsaw flew up in the air.

"Uh-"

Said chainsaw was from a juggler clad only in purple shorts, standing up on a ladder, juggling that and three other objects. Oddly NONE of that except for the chainsaw caught my attention.

The epic experience that was doing Buckingham Palace by wheelchair - and I do mean epic - deserves a separate entry. But for now, I think it's time for the next major challenge: me and my suitcase making it on and off the Docklands Light Railway. (And making it to the Docklands Light Railway, for that matter.) Wish us luck.

London: Accessibility and disgruntlement

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I still maintain that my decision to do London by bus was not an inherently bad one. The hotel`s myriad other issues aside (questionable WiFi, the ramp, the fact that yesterday someone outside with me tried calling in to get the ramp, which didn't work - although the hotel did at least fix the shower drain, which helped immensely) - the hotel is at least, as Google maps promised, next to a bus station with a lot of buses, and close to another bus station with more buses. Also the tourist buses stop right in front of the hotel, although since the regular buses are free for me I`m using those instead.

Unfortunately, my cheerful "Yay bus!" ran into a few unexpected difficulties: 1, a major cycling event that put several London buses on what is called "diversion" although it is not exactly diverting, 2) various anti-war marches, 3) my belated realization that the words "Aldwych" and "Russell Square" mean different things to different buses, which in the case of Aldwych is particularly exciting since Aldwych is spread out over a hill.

The result of this was an exciting adventure All Over the West End as various people tried, unsuccessfully for the most part, to get me at least close to Trafalgar Square to meet up with Fran Wilde and others. I saw lots and lots and lots of things that are not on the tourist route at all - Liverpool Station, in particular (yes, I know that is not near Trafalgar; that is sort of the point). Also later Westminster Station where I can now say wih pride that i have not just seen, but used, the staff bathroom.

Which leads to the next point. I had actually anticipated that most of my issues with the wheelchair would be at all of the old buildings and museums. As it turns out, not so - with the exception of the British Museum's "oh, yes, that lift HAS been broken for some time" and its cheerful disdain of letting anyone know about this - and my little tour through the kitchens of the National Gallery (which resulted in my choking at the crowds and deciding that under the circumstances, really, just being in the same room with a Van Gogh was enough - although I did get to see my Renoir dancer, which was the main point. Then small children fell on me so I explored the kitchen again.) those buildings have been somewhat manageable.

The restaurants and stores, however, have not been, with stairs. And stairs. And then stairs. I took pictures, including pictures of stores and restaurants that have successfully made disability accommmodations, and those will be forthcoming so you can see what I mean.

Fortunately, I have gotten to hang out with some awesome people, study Catherine Parr's portrait, and today I am meeting with others. And after all, I am in London, and I am not going to let these buses totally defeat me.

London

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So, after missing my initial flight, dealing with a flight delay out of Orlando, temporarily losing my wheelchair in Dublin (that was fun), and going through Secret Back Alleyways Through Paddington Station (that actually was entertaining. Like spy stuff.) This is usually the part where I complain about Heathrow, and, trust me, there are several things I could say about Heathrow, none kind, but in comparison I feel that Heathrow's ongoing "Hi! How can we get you to hate this country as quickly as possible" is mild in comparison. Also Heathrow did push me all the way to Heathrow Express, so that was kind.

Unfortunately, the advertised as disabled friendly hotel where I am staying is not quite as disabled friendly as advertised. To get in and out I have to wait for the porters to bring me a little temporary ramp, not kept in the lobby. This also means that they have to realize I'm there, which so far means waiting outside hopefully for another guest to enter the hotel to alert them that I need the ramp. The main hotel restaurant is not at all disabled accessible, and the bathroom - but this should be a cheery post.

It's perhaps not surprising that I have had four separate people come up to me and ask, in excited voices some equivalent of "you are really doing this? Where? How? Does the bathroom actually work for a wheelchair?" All of them know wheelchair users.

My other favorite comment of the past two days: "All the Americans I've met are so friendly which is strange because you always seem to be shooting each other." Yay, USA!

All right. One last visit to the unlit disabled bathroom, and then I am off to See Stuff.

Loncon 3 schedule

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It's been brought to my attention that I haven't posted my official Loncon 3 schedule. This is true, mostly because for the most part I was trying to AVOID having an official Loncon 3 schedule. That flopped, if, I'm pleased to say, not too badly. So, the official Loncon3 schedule, in between arriving at some point Wednesday and leaving at some point Monday:

Chivalrous Critics of Fannish Dimensions
Saturday 20:00 - 21:00, Capital Suite 16 (ExCeL)

What makes a good epic fantasy? Does quality of prose matter, or is insisting on literary rigor killjoy and elitist? Is it possible to 'overthink' your experience of reading epic fantasy - or is it patronising to the sub-genre to suggest it should be given an easier ride than other types of writing? What are some of the primary critiques of epic fantasy and how can they be used to improve the genre moving forward?

Myke Cole (M), Liz Bourke, Nic Clarke, Justin Landon, Mari Ness

(I am tempted to show up with some sort of mash-up of The Belgariad and Finnegan's Wake, but perhaps not. I mean, to do that, I'd have to look at Finnegan's Wake again.)

I'm also on as an emergency back up add her to the panel thing, so it's possible this might get extended. I will also probably be making some sort of appearance at one or all the following: the Friday night SFWA reception (given the nature of these sorts of things, the chances that I will be lingering at this event are slim, slim indeed); the Saturday morning 10 am 12 am Strange Horizons Brunch, Fan Village, Tent A; one or more of Strolling with the Stars, assuming accessibility isn't an issue (I'll be Rolling with the Stars, but I feel that counts); and the, or at least a bar during the Hugos, to place large imaginary bets on the Hugos.

Also, my hotel room, for multiple naps.
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Not that anybody has asked, but: "Hey, what it is like to get solicited for a major upcoming project?"

It goes like this:

1. Email comes in. You read it. It's a request - an actual request - for a poem. You figure the people sending you the email just wanted to cheer you up because you had a crappy day, but, you know, poem! After a couple of reassuring emails you agree, because this is going to be a nice, fun little webzine, right? No pressure. You cheer up.

2. Time passes. You don't think much about it because of myriad and massive computer issues and a few other things. And then the Kickstarter announcement pops up on Twitter. You click.

3. You see the freaking list of solicited authors" and squeak, because this list includes Paul Cornell, Mary Robinette Kowal, Jim Hines, Rachel Swirsky, Scott Lynch (!!!!), E. Lily Yu, Ken Liu, Sofia Samatar, Amal El-Mohtar, several other amazing names and --

Neil Gaiman.

(For the record NONE of this was in the initial email.)

Did we say no pressure? Right.

NO PRESSURE.

3. You realize that you really really really want to read everybody else in this.

Uncanny Magazine!

So, er, go pledge! For everyone else in this.

#

Speaking of projects that you should be funding, I'm VERY pleased to note that An Alphabet of Embers, Rose Lemberg's upcoming anthology of Unclassiables, has funded, which also means that the companion book, Spelling the Hours, which is a really cool little thing containing poems about women scientists, has also funded.

What hasn't funded yet, though, is the second stretch goal, which includes music from The Banjo Apocalypse Crinoline Troubadours, which sounds totally awesome.

Plus, the initial books just sound really cool.

(Full disclosure: I submitted something for Spelling the Hours, but to be honest, given the other people submitting to this project, I don't actually expect to be in it since Rose has such an amazing wealth of talent eager to work with her to choose from. Which right there says everything you need to know about her editing skills (i.e., excellent.) However, I AM in one of the incentive books, Here We Cross, so if you've always wanted a copy of that, this is an excellent opportunity.)

#

And since this has turned into a pimp out worthy projects post, Clarkesworld Magazine is very close to publishing three more stories every four months thanks to Patreon support; they only need a couple hundred more dollars in pledging to make that goal. I'm an obvious fan of Clarkesworld, not just because they've published me twice, but because they continue to publish outstanding fiction every single month, forming a large part of the stories I nominate for the Hugo and Nebula awards, so I highly recommend this, if you can. And you can always buy Clarkesworld directly from various online retailers as well.

(Though, full disclosure again: this is a bit of an incentive for me as well, since it might get me over my current "AUUGH I CAN'T WRITE SCIENCE FICTION" if I know people like a zine that I've published science fiction in to support it through Patreon. But mostly, you should be supporting Clarkesworld since they are publishing such groundbreaking work.)

#

(I have to write a poem for a zine that also solicited a poem from Neil Gaiman. NO PRESSURE.)

(ok maybe pressure)

Survival

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My little flash story, Survival, popped up at Goldfish Grimm over the weekend, along with a short interview with me.

In other survival stories, I left the house today thinking, oooh, the sun is still shining. I won't get wet. YAY ME.

Ten minutes later I was soaked completely through, and I do mean completely (well, my butt was kinda covered by the trike, but still.) We're talking every inch of clothing totally plastered to you soaked. Water dripping from my nose soaked. Having to stop because I can't ride the trike in heavy rain soaked (the rain gets on my glasses.)

During all of this?

Sun.

Still.

Shining.

Ok, that didn't last too long - the clouds swept in - but Florida. Where you can be in the sun, and still be wet.

But I now have my bananas, which was the main point of going against Florida's weather, so all good.

Beans and Lies

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Beans and Lies just went up at Daily Science Fiction. It's very short, I promise. And it's - almost - a fairy tale. Kinda.

Death and Death Again

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My short story, Death and Death Again, just went live up at Nightmare Magazine.

Since I've been yelled about not warning people about this sort of thing before, warning: this story is pure, unadulterated horror. Like horror movie style horror. Not one of my usual indulgences, but sometimes fear and terror just has to crawl out.

There's also an interview here where I chat about my inability to come up with character names. This has actually reached the point of being a pretty bad joke, but in this case, it happened not because I couldn't figure out the right names (the usual problem) but because I was writing in a fit of pure irritation, and quite honestly reached the end before realizing that I'd done it again. Ah well.

Anyway, enjoy!

Apparently, this does need to be said

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My comment policy:

1. I welcome disagreement and dialogue. Anonymous comments are disabled because the spam from those was just getting too overwhelming to deal with, but generally people are more than welcome to disagree/comment using LJ accounts, Facebook, Twitter and so on.

Tor.com does moderate comments on my posts, but as far as I'm aware the only comments that have been deleted were things like people trying to sell rip off designer shoes. Years back there was a small issue with one commentator, not because of any disagreements, but because Tor.com does not allow commentators (or, for that matter, me) to promote their own works repeatedly on the site. Otherwise, the only comments I have reported to Tor.com were on the Song of Ice and Fire thread when I spotted spoilers.

I should also note that I'm not a moderator on that site and have very limited powers there (read, none) so if you do have an issue I'm really the last person involved with Tor.com that you should chat with. I don't even have the email addresses for the moderators. Or many (read, most) of the editors.

2. In twelve years, I have banned several Russian and Japanese LJ spam accounts, and one other user for non spam reasons, but that's it.

I didn't even ban the user who popped by to defend Roman Polanski although I was, admittedly, very tempted.

3. All that said:

If you come to this blog and tell me that the United States Constitution prohibits me from making moral judgements about historical people, I am going to get annoyed. If you further, in your comments, make any attempts whatsoever to defend pedophilia, stalking, stalking 14 year olds, or attempt to suggest that the stalker/pedophile in question was a tragic victim of the 14 year old, then EVEN IF THE FOURTEEN YEAR OLD IN QUESTION later grew up and murdered the stalker (in the 1940s), I AM GOING TO GET PISSED OFF. If you further suggest that I need to read more first hand, primary sources about this entire depressing story, and some excellent articles on this, then yes, I am going to get irritated, and the ban hammer will come up.

4. Thanks.

Disabled, with reservations

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In a little less than a month I head off to the United Kingdom and Ireland for WorldCon and Shamrockon. Since people have asked, I will also be in sorta the general area for Nine Worlds as well - in fact, I realized that I might even run into people at Heathrow arriving for Nine Worlds - and if people want to meet me for dinner that weekend that's awesome, but I wasn't planning on attending. Not because I have anything against Nine Worlds, which actually seems like more my sorta thing than the other two cons, but because at a certain point you hit Con Overload, and three cons in three weeks is absolutely that point for me. And although I initially thought about doing Nine Worlds and WorldCon, well...Shamrockon is in Ireland, where I've never been.

And like others, I will be in London between Nine Worlds and Worldcon. Let the hijinks ensue.

But this isn't about my con schedule, but rather about making reservations.

This isn't my first trip to the UK, or my first time making reservations there (although on one trip I just showed up at the train station and was lucky enough to find a cheap space in a Westminster boarding house sorta thing, which was fun).

But this is my first trip traveling via wheelchair, not to mention my first attempt to navigate Grade I and Grade II buildings - which historically can't be altered - some of which are transportation points, and others of which are hotels.

And, that, as it turns out, makes things interesting well before boarding a plane.

For instance:

1. While in London pre-Worldcon, I won't be using the London Underground much - even post the Olympics, many of the Tube stations are not wheelchair accessible. Fortunately for my budget, the London buses ARE fully accessible, and the bus system has a very helpful website where you can type in where you are starting from and where you want to end up and it will list all the buses for you. As it turned out, the buses pretty much cover everywhere I want to go, which solved that problem. (There's also special tourist buses, even better.) That's great, and meant that one of my main criteria for choosing a hotel was "Near Bus Station."

2. London hotel websites, however, assume that tourists are all going to want to use the Tube - so although they usually announce proudly how close to they are to a Tube station, few of them mention the bus stations. And if you go to the bus system website, it doesn't always tell you how far the hotel is from the bus.

3. Enter Google Street Maps, which have been, bluntly, a livesaver - not just for this reason, either, but you can type in the hotel address and see where the bus station is, on street view, and note any potential problems.

4. Google Street Maps are a godsend in another way: you can click on the little person on street view, look around, and see if the entrance to the hotel is, in fact, wheelchair accessible, since by "wheelchair accessible" the hotel sometimes means "you can use a wheelchair on the ground floor in the public rooms," not necessarily "you can get in."

5. And speaking of hotels in Bath, not London - I was initially cheered to see just how many hotels in Bath popped up when I searched for disabled accommodations in Bath.

Not surprisingly - most Bath hotels are in historic buildings that can only be accessed by two to four stairs - that turned out to be an overly optimistic search. As it turned out, Bath actually only has four hotels I could stay at. One is an absolutely gorgeous luxury hotel that is seriously beyond my budget, but where I am immediately heading to the instant I win the lottery. A second had only one disabled room which was already booked.

Which means that I am staying in a hotel that has been pretty universally described as "overpriced" in all of its internet reviews, who urge visitors to head to other, better value hotels. Having looked at the hotel's website I am already inclined to agree with the internet reviews, but the reviews also say that the hotel has a good sandwich place nearby, which is a plus, so there's that.

The other option, of course, was to stay in cheaper, more modern Bristol - an option I used for most of my clients back when I worked in the travel industry. The issue with Bristol, however, was that its hotels with disabled accommodation were for the most part not near the train station I would be using to take to Bath. By the time I worked out the transportation costs, I realized that I was going to be spending almost as much in transportation as I would be saving in hotel costs, so although Bristol is really not that far away, it seemed easier to stick with Bath after all.

6. Buckingham Palace, which is open during July/August, and is wheelchair accessible.

Wheelchair accessible tickets, however, have to be booked separately - and can't, unlike regular tickets, be booked online. (Apparently there's only one elevator accessible for tourists, so this has to be scheduled. Also you go in via wheelchair accessible golf cart.) Instead, you have to make an international phone call - or alternatively, email, and have them call you, which was working great until Buckingham Palace's computer systems went down. You fail me, Windsors, you fail me.

(Technically I think this is a sorta independent group that "operates" tours of Buckingham Palace while the Windsors are out windsoring, but it's more fun to assume this, like so many other things, is all Prince Charles' fault.)

I may end up at Kensington Palace instead, also wheelchair accessible, which has tickets available at the door.

7. But at least it is wheelchair accessible: it's been mildly crushing to realize even things that sounded like they would be fully wheelchair accessible aren't. The Tower of London is one thing; the Cartoon Museum, though, was a bit of a surprise.

I find myself comparing previous trips, with the "what shall I do today?" the spontaneous wandering, the surety that I could find someplace in London where I could sleep - and reach - without worrying too much. Some of that remains: my London schedule, for instance, is fairly flexible up until Worldcon, though that's partly because some plans are still getting finalized. It's not all disabled issues, either - some of this is just meeting up with various people here and there in London (hilariously, mostly Americans from Florida so far - it says something that it seems easier to meet up with them in London than Winter Garden, but moving on.) But there's still a fundamental change from previous trips, and it has me a bit twitchy.

On the other hand, London! Also, Dublin! Castles! High tea! And getting to see many of you again! Awesomeness.

Available for purchase/preorder:

xmas me
Available for purchase today, the July issue of Nightmare Magazine, which includes my story "Death and Death Again." You can pick it up here. It's a little foray into pure, unadulterated horror.

And available for preorder today, Upgraded, an anthology of cyborg stories edited by Neil Clarke, containing my story, "Memories and Wire." You can preorder it here. The book should be available later this month; I'm really looking forward to seeing the other stories in it.

That both these pieces are appearing in the same month is a fun coincidence, given their somewhat similar themes and tinges of horror. Well, ok, in the first story, not tinges so much as outright horror.

(The other little story coming out this month from Daily Science Fiction is something else entirely, but more on that later.)

Various Things Which Do Not Make a Post

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Wow. Hadn't realized just how much time had gone by since I blogged here. Partly this has been illness; partly the complete lack of a blogging bug. But, still, a few random things from here and there:

1. A biography/history that for once, I don't have any real complaints about: Superman: The High Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero. Definitely on the popular side, with sex! Murder! (Ok, to be fair, insinuations and discussions of murder.) Flying accidents! Lawsuits! Quotes from basketball players! Gossipy little tidbits! A failure to completely get all the decisions made with Smallville! (We all feel you there, Mr. Tye, we all feel you.) Interviews with all of the (not murdered) still alive people involved with Superman! Analysis of why the dude is so popular. The book stops short of reviewing Man of Steel, since it went to print before the movie, but otherwise does a pretty thorough job of following Superman through newspapers, comic books, radio, television and film. Nothing deep here, but a fun pop culture history with more Superman gossip than you probably ever needed to know.

2. I'm not against the general idea of leaving politics out of Hugo voting, but if you really want me to seriously consider, say, your novelette for a major literary award, it might help if you did not spend the day spreading false allegations about a professional writers group that I happen to be a member of.

Just saying.

3. Speaking of the Hugos, I seem to have most of my plans in place for my upcoming trip to World Con and Shamrockon in August. This is my first trip to the UK in awhile, and my first trip ever to Ireland, so this should be interesting. Also I will be crossing the Irish Sea in a boat, which should be very interesting, so this is a general warning to those I'm meeting in Dublin that I don't expect to be overly coherent at first, especially if Macnamman mac Lir chooses to be unkind. Let us hope.

4. On a World Cup note, I was very sad to hear that today's headlines about the Biter From Uraguay did not, in fact, mean that the World Cup is now featuring teams of vampires biting each other between ball kicks. World Cup, you disappoint me. On the other hand, VAMOS COLOMBIA!

Twittering the Stars

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After a week where I was seriously considering checking out of the writing business and just admitting that the entire effort was futile, some good news this morning:

"Twittering the Stars," my science fiction story told entirely in Twitter format, a story that can be read backwards and forwards, is now available from Upper Rubber Boot Books as an ebook from the following locations:

Barnes and Noble.

Kobo

Amazon (Also other worldwide Amazon storefronts.)

Canadian readers can also purchase the book through Chapters Indigo.

I'm very pleased about this. "Twittering the Stars" was one of my hands down best received, best reviewed stories. However, it was only available in an anthology, which limited the number of people who picked it up. I'm delighted that it's now available as a separate short.

I'm also delighted to be part of, in however small a way, Upper Rubber Boot Press, which apart from doing this series, also publishes speculative poetry collections, something I always want to see more of.

My email brought me one other snippet of good news, about which more later, making me feel like a touch more of a writer today. Maybe I will get this story finished after all.
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Just a quick note that my poem, The Loss, has been nominated for a Dwarf Stars Award. A collection of the nominees is forthcoming soon; I'll have a post up at that point.

Now back to writing more poems to the sound of the neighbor's lawnmower.

Jay Lake

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Speculative fiction writer Jay Lake passed away this morning.

Apart from being a Campbell award winner and Hugo and Nebula nominated fiction writer, Jay Lake was also funny, and extremely supportive of fellow writers. I had the amazing luck to spend time with him at more than one ICFA, chatting writing and publishing and alligators and films, and I am incredibly grateful for the unstinting support and encouragement he gave to a complete stranger.

Thanks for everything, Jay. You will be missed.

Tags:

Call Me Burroughs, Barry Miles

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A few weeks back, supergee discussed Call Me Burroughs, a new biography by Barry Miles of influential Beat Generation writer William Burroughs, using it to raise the fascinating question of whether an artist's work can allow us to overlook his or her life. It sounded like exactly the sort of juicy, gossipy biography that I love, so I got the book from the library as soon as I could. This may or may not have been a good thing. The biography is detailed, gripping, enthralling in more than one section. It also left me feeling faintly to seriously unclean as I read. This was a book I had to put down frequently.

Cutting because although I think all of this is important, it also got much longer than I anticipated. Rant ahead. Also, brief mentions of child abuse and animal torture. You've been warned.Collapse )

Mary Stewart, 1916-2014

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Romance/suspense fantasy author Mary Stewart died at the age of 97 this week.

My favorite book of hers was Touch Not the Cat: mystery, Gothic, telepathy, archaeology, identical twins - it kinda has everything. It was enough to get me to rush through the rest of her Gothic/suspense novels, of which the best is arguably Nine Coaches Waiting, although I also have a soft spot for The Moon-Spinners.

But her most influential book on me was unquestionably The Wicked Day, her retelling of the Arthurian legend from Mordred's point of view, which I picked up back in high school and was transformational. To be honest, I haven't read it for years, and it probably doesn't live up to my memories - let's go with it certainly doesn't live up to my memories - but it was the first book that got me to think about the villain's point of view, and to think about how history and stories are determined as much by viewpoint as by anything. And that, in turn, led me to relook and reconsider many of the characters from myth and fairy tale, something I continue to do today.

RIP.

Coffin

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Sometimes, when I start to write a story, I know exactly where it's going.

And sometimes the story does not go at all where I thought it was going. I knew vaguely that I was writing about a coffin - even the coffin, but this story took an unexpected turn into the present day with the phrase "satellite photos" and then just kept changing from there, and by the end it had nothing to do with what I was originally thinking (a caper story) and everything to do with other things.

Enjoy!

The Silver Comb/Water Babies

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The latest issue of Mythic Delirium is up, featuring poems by Jane Yolen, Cedar Sanderson, and me. Enjoy!

Also out: the latest Tor.com post, on The Water-Babies. I can't exactly recommend the book for enjoyable reading, but it does provide some interesting commentary on the Victorians.

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Mari Ness

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