Saturday, September 27, 2008

A completely meaningless sample

A long time ago, when popular music was mostly awful and good music was mostly punk--yes, the eighties--John Kessel and I ran a writer's workshop we called the Sycamore Hill Writers' Conference. During the years when I was attending SycHill (which is still running; I'm no longer invited), we often took informal surveys of the writers on topics of huge import, such as handedness. I offer three of these for your amusement:

* Left-handedness was more common than in the population at large--or at least, so I remember. (I'm right-handed.)

* The overwhelming majority of the writers were either first-born children or first-born male children. (I'm a first-born.)

* The overwhelming majority of the writers did not attend their high-school prom. (I did not.)

Like most such anecdotal data, I find this material suspect, but at the same time, I've always liked knowing it, so I thought I'd pass it along.

Yet another book I want to write

Today brought me the unexpected pleasure of lunch with Toni, my publisher. We chatted about a wide variety of topics, but I thought one of them might be of particular interest to readers of this blog: another book I want to do. This one would be very different from anything I've done to date, and it would be my first novel-length collaboration. I'm not ready to give out more details yet, but I will say that I'm intrigued enough by this book--and the series I hope it begins--that I can't wait to find time to get to it.

That said, I could be waiting a while, because I have a few other writing and editing obligations on my plate already.

More on this new notion in the future. For now, back to Overthrowing Heaven, which is mounting toward a conclusion that has been repeating over and over in my mind for months.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Father and Son

was always one of my favorite Cat Stevens songs. It still is. If you don't know it and you're interested, check out this video of him performing it a long time ago.

When I was a teenager and even when I was in college, grown-ups always seemed to be telling me what to do and how to live my life, but they never seemed to listen to me. This song struck me then as perfectly encapsulating my frustration while also never portraying the father as evil. It still does.

The years have worn on, as they do, and now I'm the father, and I have a son and a daughter. I tell them things they should do, and I have to believe that sometimes they feel like the young man in this song. All I can say to them--or to any other younger person who has asked me for advice--is that I have never meant to dictate your life. I'll give advice if you ask, and I'll sometimes do it even if you don't ask, but I mean it only as advice.

Perhaps the oddest part of my reaction to this song is that I still identify with the kid. I still feel 16 inside. I suspect I always will.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Do you like your feet and toes?

Kyle has declared mine to be unattractive and reminiscent of cavemen. I think his resemble blocks of wood, while I quite like mine. The index toe is longer than the big toe, which I think is very nice. Well, to be precise, the index toe is longer than the big toe on my left foot; the right index toe is about the same length as its big toe companion due to my having broken it and the middle toe in an accident about which we shall not speak. The nail on my pinky toe is an actual nail, not one of those residual bits of nail that pass as a nail on many feet. In short, they are fine feet, and I like them.

How do you feel about yours?

It occurs to me now that the mere fact that I have written this entry may suggest more about my lack of sleep than any seven yawns could convey. Hmmm.

Okay, here's some actual book news: In case you missed it in the comments on my post about the Overthrowing Heaven cover, Toni, my publisher, has declared that as soon as the cover image is available, I am to spread it around like confetti. I shall do so, though I have no clue when that might be.

Off to said book I go, my bare feet staring charmingly upward at me, for a bit more work tonight.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

House tournaments: win one, lose one

Many nights here at the whack factory include two serious competitions: the RPS contest with Sarah, and the mini pool tournament with Scott. As you might expect, I prefer to win both, but that rarely happens. Tonight, alas, was a 1 and 1 night.

In RPS, Sarah stopped my winning streak at three with a convincing victory of two straight of our best-two-out-of-three contests. I guess she has to win one now and then.

In pool, I beat Scott in the mini tournament, but he won one game with an early and rather amazing combination that resulted in the nine ball rolling into a corner and me racking up the balls almost as quickly as we'd started the rack. Scott's quickly become a pretty darn good pool player, but right now he's laboring under the handicap of having to use the kiddie cue; all of our other sticks (except for my regular one) have lost their tips and await repair. If he keeps improving, I'll have to delay fixing those cues.

Of course, neither of these fun activities will finish my novel, so to it I return.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The cover for Overthrowing Heaven

Steve Hickman was kind enough to email me a JPEG of his pencil layout of the cover for Overthrowing Heaven. At the risk of tormenting readers--oh, hell, let's be honest: for the joy of tormenting readers--I have to say the sketch was pretty nifty. It's also unlike the One Jump Ahead and Slanted Jack covers in a very obvious way that I won't mention. The cover is even reasonably true to a great (at least for me; you'll have to decide for yourself later) scene in the book.

I can only hope I finish the first draft of OH before he completes the painting of the cover. Right now, it's a tough race. I'm well over 100K words, but I'm far from done.

When Steve finishes the art and Baen has done the initial sales stuff with it, I'll see if I can persuade Toni to let me post the image here. I doubt I can succeed, and she should certainly withhold permission if my posting it would cost any sales, but I figure it can't hurt to ask.

Cool stuff.

End of torment.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The pig-pickin'

This afternoon and early evening we celebrated Dave's birthday early with his annual pig-pickin'. You can read about this Southern phenomenon on Wikipedia, or you can go for this simpler explanation:

1) Cook entire pig in cooker. The cooker is the big black thing in the picture below.

2) (Optional) Take your knife, cut off pieces (hence the "pickin'"), and eat it. In this picture, Kyle (left, black shirt), Dave (at the pig), and I are at this step.

3) Cut up pig and serve to friends. Sauce is optional, and the type of sauce varies by region, but I prefer a spicy blend. Jo Drake makes a killer sauce.

That's really all there is to it. In our case, the pig is but one of many food attractions, because the meal is a pot-luck dinner. Jo makes a bunch of great dishes, other folks contribute everything from deviled eggs to cobblers and cakes, and we all eat so much we resemble boas that have just downed calves.

Dave and I both collect SF pulps, so a group of us get together each year and try to buy some of the relatively few magazines he doesn't already have. In this photo, he's holding a January, 1928 issue of Weird Tales, one of this year's gifts. (Sorry, Dave, for running a picture with you looking a little drugged; I couldn't resist.)

No North Carolina party would be complete without combat sports, so Sarah and I took it upon ourselves to treat the assembled crowd to displays of our awesome skills. In this shot, Sarah is falling victim to my "laughing spaz" strategy as we pursue the Fight Club strategy that has made her school so feared by, well, no one.

I totally had her.

Despite the obvious viciousness of our battle, the crowd's thirst for blood remained, so we bowed to peer pressure and engaged in a hardfought rock-paper-scissors fight. In fact, instead of our usual best-of-three best-of-three, we had two such contests.

In this first photo, we've just begun, and Sarah has hope.

In this second picture, however, I've emerged victorious (extending my current streak to three), and Sarah, now bereft of all chance of winning today, is contemplating drowning herself in either cake, brownies, or cobbler.

These are the tough decisions facing a pig-pickin' crowd.

(All pictures, by the way, are courtesy of the Web Weasel, who unlike myself is not so lame as to be unwilling to resize photos from a blogcam for use on the blog.)


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