Friday, June 30, 2006

Social event of the season

You see, I know I've arrived as a mover-and-shaker in the genre literary scene because I get invited to all the swankiest soirees. Case in point: Last night the Missus and I, along with Orion, ventured forth into the heart of San Antonio to partake in the festivities marking the release of Cover Story: The Art of John Picacio. Let me tell you folks, it was the place to see and be seen. Probably a hundred folks--some of whom I actually recognized--packed this gorgeous old turn-of-the-century two-story house of which San Antonio has in spades. An in between glasses of wine and some spectacularly awe-inspiring strawberries dipped in chocolate (amongst other deli-style goodies--the stone ground mustard was the absolute best I've ever had. Period) the gathered throng oohed and aahed over the stunning collection of artwork contained within the covers of Picacio's new book. And I took pictures.

Above, we see the man of the hour down his 27th glass of chardonnay as the audience cheers him on. This actually started off as a drinking contest like that one Marion Ravenwood won early on in Raiders of the Lost Ark. But when his opponent passed out, John kept on drinking. Shortly after I took this picture, he put on a propeller beanie, shoved two no. 1 artist's pencils up his nose and jumped around the room shouting "I am the walrus!"

John's parents, above, were visibly proud of their son's accomplishments. Surprisingly, however, they weren't disturbed by his shoving pencils up his nose. "He shoved a lot worse things up his nose as a kid," said John's father. "Oh yes," said his mother. "Little Johnnykins started off with fire ants, and just went downhill from there."

John's lovely fiancée, Traci, also in attendance, was positively beaming. She too, took John's antics in stride. "He's a big Beatles nut. Loves Lennon, Yoko not so much," Traci said by way of explaining the walrus thing. "I'm just glad he settled for putting pencils up his nose, and didn't go for the meat or veggie tray. He got ahold of a head of broccoli once, and it wasn't pretty."

Orion did his best to disrupt the festivities when a toast to John (Picacio, not Lennon) got particularly loud. Orion was startled by all the noise, and started crying. Loudly. Lisa had to take him upstairs to calm him down. In any event, he proved the adage that babies always steal the show!

Before we left, I took some books up for John to sign. Two copies of Cover Story--one for me and one for Orion--and a copy of the 30th anniversary edition of Michael Moorcock's Behold the Man, which was the first cover work John ever did for a book.
John: You just want me to sign my name?

Me: No, sign it to me.

John: Why? You're just going to put it up on eBay when you get home.

Me: Am not.

John: Who are you kidding? This has eBay written all over it.

Me: Does not.

John: And look--Moorcock hasn't even signed it yet.

Me: Well, I haven't seen him for three years. He's not in Bastrop much these days.

John: So, just my name then?

Me: Fine, whatever.

John: I knew it!

And we made it all the way home without John or any of his family suing me for libel!

Now Playing: The Police Message in a Box


I will be so, so, so glad when this chapter is finished. It's an utter and complete struggle to get anything on paper. It's like that section in The Fellowship of the Ring after they escape the Balrog but before they reach Lothlorien. Not a whole heck of a lot happens, but you can't get from point A to point B without it. Still, it does give me a chance to reveal some interesting (at least, I think it's interesting) information about Lidozrout anatomy:
Jachym snorted. "I still hate them. I hate them from their piggy noses to their curly horns."

"They don't have horns."

Jachym stared at Ctibor as if he were mad.

"They don't have horns," Ctibor repeated. "Lidozrout have tusks. They grow from the upper jaw up through the snout. That's why most of the ones you'll see have them jutting straight up between the eyes, with only a small curve to it. It's the old boars that get that corkscrew look to 'em. Those tusks get so big though, it pushes their eyes out of the sockets. Can't see worth a damn."


"Tusks," Ctibor nodded. "The older the boar, the more cockeyed they get. The big ones might be the toughest and strongest, but they're also the easiest to kill. That big boar in the Kostel, he sent his young warriors to attack first. That wasn't cowardice, it was strategy."

I love it that the Lidozrout are far more complex as a society than they appear at first glance. Which is to say they're not mere cannon-fodder hordes of orcs with a hard-to-pronounce species name. And they're not evil, at least not in a strict sense. While the Lidozrout have a presence all the way through Wetsilver, they're never front and center, which I think makes them all the more intriguing and mysterious. If Wetsilver sells, however, I have the vague outlines of a sequel--or rather a follow-up, since none of the Wetsilver characters would appear in it--in which the "Matter of the Lidozrout" is very much the crux of the story, indeed. But, ah, first things first as they say.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
27,000 / 90,000

Now Playing: The Police Message in a Box

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Jim Baen has died

Jim Baen's death is a loss for the entire genre. Some people didn't like the direction he took Baen Books, but there's no arguing he was a man of vision and built up an independent publisher that gave many science fiction and fantasy authors their start. I didn't know him well--only that time hosting him during Aggiecon--but I'll never forget that while I was driving him back to his hotel he asked if I had a novel written, and seemed genuinely disappointed when I told him no.

David Drake has an appropriate memorial up at his site.

Now Playing: Eric Clapton 24 Nights


I'm in a quandry. I actually got back to writing last night, and managed 700 words, but it was a struggle. After an hour or so of staring at a blank screen (not entirely staring--a couple of false starts were scattered in there) I realized what my problem was: I had no idea what happened next. The next major beat in the story doesn't happen until the following chapter, so this one is mostly bridge work with some additional characterization. Once I actually realized and internalized this fact, I was able to shift mental gears and make something suitable up.

The long layoff from working on the novel did gave me a bit of perspective on what I've written thus far, and--revisiting that Tetris analogy--I'm seeing some significant gaps in the narrative. Particularly in the last two chapters. So I'm torn between going back and fixing these shortcomings now, while they're fresh in my mind, and forging ahead with the intent of coming back to them at some future date once the overall novel is significantly closer to being finished.

The thing is, I don't entirely trust myself to remember these specific trouble spots--or rather, remember my current "obvious solutions" to fix the individual problems. I could make notes, sure, but my notes are either brief to the point of being cryptic, or so detailed I might as well just go ahead and make the changes now. Decisions, decisions...

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
26,450 / 90,000

Now Playing: Eric Clapton 24 Nights

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Apollocon recap

No writing done last night. Lots of mundane reasons why not, but the long and short of it is that I collapsed in bed, exhausted, before I even got around to checking email. I can assure you, my frustration at this is immense.

I also haven't had a chance to upload any of the photos taken during Apollocon over the weekend, save yesterday's Peter Beagle portrait. Which means I don't have illustrations yet. But the con itself was good fun. I managed to get there in time for opening ceremonies despite a late start from home and hellacious traffic--bad even for Houston--which prompted my car to try and overheat. Not fun, that.

Unfortunately, I found out right away that Brad Denton had cancelled out because of illness. Brad always brings a good boost to conventions as well as conversations, so that was a disappointment. I got to see a lot of folks who are always a lot of fun, including Martha Wells, Selina Rosen, Alexis Glynn Latner, Lee Martindale, M.T. Reiten and Chris Nakashima-Brown, but the weekend was such a whirlwind that I never got a chance to sit down and talk shop with anyone for any extended period of time. Since Denton wasn't at the con, my half-hour reading slot expanded to a full hour. Unfortunately, I'd only brought a half-hour's worth of Wetsilver novel excerpt. It seemed to go over well, in any event.

One particular disappointment for me was that Nakashima-Brown and I never had any real opportunity to do writer talking stuff. Our schedules kept us in conflict, and when they didn't conflict, some moron in the gaming room shot Chris' son in the eye with a laser pointer which necessitated the invocation of a parental crisis management plan (all ocular organs have since recovered, I'm happy to report). I did manage to catch Chris reading from his story "The Bunker of the Tikriti" which is a retelling of the Robert E. Howard classic "The Tower of the Elephant" relocated to a near-future Iraq. It's great--edgy and filled with knowing detail as you'd expect from a Nakashima-Brown story. It'll be coming out during this year's World Fantasy Convention in the Robert E. Howard Centennial anthology, and I can assure all of you future readers that you're in for a treat.

Now Playing: J. Geils Band Flashback

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Sad news

Oh, man. I'd hoped I was wrong, but it appears my suspicions were correct:
Peter's mother died in her sleep at a little after 8 PM on June 24th, 2006, at the Salem Lutheran Home in Oakland, California. Details up shortly.

How can I post about the death of Peter Beagle's mother, Rebecca Soyer Beagle, without trivializing it? According to the time posted at Conlan Press, she would've passed away right as Peter and I were wrapping up the interview on Saturday night. I'm glad I was able to finish up and leave prior to that phone call coming--some things shouldn't have an audience, no matter how sympathetic and well meaning.

Before I left, however, I set a time to get with Beagle the next day to take a set of photos for use with the interview. After his panel, he asked me to meet him in the dealers' room after he'd checked in with his business manager, Connor Cochran. I went to the restroom and when I came out, I saw two members of the concom engaged in serious discussion with Beagle. I got that uncomfortable, prickly feeling. I approached one of the concom, and they told me only that he'd gotten some personal news that he didn't want to get out during the convention. I immediately thought of his 100-year-old mother. I didn't know of course, but part of me was inclined to just pack up and leave the convention right there, and leave the man in peace (amidst the 500 or so other convention goers). But then he saw me from his table and told Cochran we were off to take some photos, so that was that.

I managed to get a few photos of the man of far higher quality than I have any right to expect, and we had a friendly conversation about nothing in particular. But I still felt slimy and vulturish, something I hadn't felt since my days as a working journalist in newspapers. Confirming my suspicions today does nothing to minimize those feelings. All I can do is wish Beagle peace of mind in this time of mourning. His mother sounds like she was a marvellous woman.

Now Playing: Dave Davies Bug

Weekend Update the first

First off, I got no writing done over the weekend. Nothing at all. Apollocon and all that. And Monday I was so wiped out that I did nothing there, either. And the baby woke us up early this morning, so I didn't get caught up on any of that sleep deficit. If I make any progress on the novel at all tonight, I'll consider it a major victory. That's not to say I've been totally unproductive. In fact, I'm pretty darn pleased with myself. Consider:

An interview with Peter S. Beagle. A very good interview with Peter S. Beagle, in which all manner of things are discussed, including Tolkien, script work, music, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Salt Wine and a whole host of other things directly or indirectly releated to his own writing. It's been two years since I conducted my last interview, and I wasn't sure how things would go. I'm happy to report things went very well indeed. I can't wait to see this one in final form.

Now Playing: The Kinks Arthur or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Some months back, a fellow posted to Garden Web a curious species of passion flower he'd bought online but couldn't identify. I happened to have a couple of books on hand I could reference, and was able to help him ID it as p. sanguinolenta, a compact, pretty species from Ecuador with pink to red flowers. Yesterday, two rooted cuttings arrived in the mail from him, his thanks for me helping him out. Sometimes, life is just too cool, as are the people one meets online.

Now Playing: Dick Dale and His Del-Tones King of the Surf Guitar


I'm discovering that writing a novel is much like playing a slow-motion game of Tetris. As I'm writing along, oddly-shaped pieces of the story suddenly present themselves to me, and I have to figure out just how they fit. And fit they do, often in unexpected ways. But on occasion, when the unexpected piece is obvious in its role--the perfect element to make a particular sequence work--it also exposes holes I've left in the line of Tetris blocks several layers down. Holes I didn't know existed when that particular level (or chapter in this case) was written. The difference between playing Tetris and novel writing is that I get to go back and fill in those holes on my timetable. And last night's output--1,100 words or so--exposed several holes that, once filled, will make me look like a clever and shrewd plotter.
"Let me accompany you, Excellency. Please."

"I don't need your blade to finish this, Ctibor. Help our injured boys. That's where you can do the most good." She placed her hand on his cheek, cutting of his protest. Her thumb traced a znak. "You've acquitted yourself well, Ctibor. Your Rytír honor is fulfilled. Don't taint it with misplaced pride."

Ctibor lowered his head, and the twin blades of the krukh melted back into the hilt. "Yes, Excellency." Without another word, he ran to the coach.

Satisfied Ctibor would care for the wounded, the Tsukr turned, grim faced, and followed the Lidozrout into the Kostel.

"She can't... can't go after them alone," said Jachym as Ctibor returned.

"She's a Tsukr, boy. She can do any damn thing she wants."

For my reading this weekend at Apollocon I'm planning on doing a section from Wetsilver. In fact, I'm leaning toward a chapter excerpt in which the passage above concludes things. I read chapter 1 at Armadillocon last fall, and it generated positive response, so I'm anxious to test out this more action-oriented, multi-character sequence from deeper into the book to see how it plays to the masses.

Last night I reached the end of the current chapter, and instead of figuring total word count by adding that night's production to the previous total, I recalculated using the cumulative page count. The resulting additional 500-word jump is reflected in the progress meter below (just so you folks don't think I'm intentionally cheating or anything).

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
25,750 / 90,000

Now Playing: Lynryd Skynryd Skynryd's Innryds

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Apollocon programming schedule

I've got my programming schedule from Apollocon, and it certainly looks like it'll be an entertaining (and busy) weekend. Particular items that stand out immediately are the "Dr. Quack Reviews Books" panel, which also features Brad Denton, and "101 Uses for a Multitool" with the irrepressable Selina Rosen. Hold onto your hats, folks--it's gonna be a wild ride!
Fri 1900-2000 Opening Ceremonies
Conchair Mark B. Hall welcomes attendees to ApolloCon and introduces the concom and our guests.

Fri 2200-2300 Dr Quack Reviews Books
Panelists borrow books from the audience and take turns making up reviews or capsule retellings of the story based only on the cover art. (The crazier the better.)

Sat 1200-1300 The present painted in the future: SF as a Venue for Social Commentary
Panelists discuss the proposition that "Science fiction isn't so much a version of the future as it is a comment on the present painted in the future." Is this always the case? Does it matter if it's not? What kinds of commentaries can be/have been made thorugh science fiction? Does this only apply to science fiction, or do fantasy, dark fantasy and horror also offer opportunities for commentary? How do writers make the commentary? How do readers interpret the commentary?

Sat 1400-1500 Readings: Bradley Denton, Jayme Lynn Blaschke
Back to back readings in a shared one hour slot. (25 minutes actual for each reader)

Sat 1500-1600 Writing 101
Panelists offer their observations and experience to new and developing writers and answer questions from the audience. Everything is fair game from "where ideas come from" to "when you can quit your day job" and anything else related to writing, revising, getting published, getting famous, and staying solvent in the process.

Sat 1800-1900 Autographs: Jayme Lynn Blaschke
Formal Autograph session

Sat 2300-2400 101 uses for a Multitool
Needs a panel of people with a slightly sick sense of humor to sit around and brainstorm in public about non-standard (and hopefully funny) uses for a multitool. Extra points for interesting ideas that are actually functional!

Sun 1400-1500 Spec Fic on the Internet
Panelists discuss how to feed a SF/Fantasy/Horror reading habit off the Internet. Topics might include sources, finding aids, does cost (for-pay versus sponsored versus "museum style" versus free) affect availability or quality, technical issues, varying formats, intellectual property considerations.

Now Playing: Andean Fusion Andian Sounds for the World, vol. VII


Over-tired and congested is not a good combination for good word production. I packed it in and went to bed last night after managing just 300 hard-fought words. The scene's not particularly difficult. It was a case of struggling to remain focused enough to put down one word after another. Here's hoping tonight goes a little better so that I might make up some of that 700-word deficit.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
24,100 / 90,000

Now Playing: Andean Fusion Spirit of the Incas

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Armadillocon 28 writers workshop

Now's probably a good time to remind everyone that the deadline for getting in on the Armadillocon 28 writers workshop is fast approaching. The deadline for registering is July 6, in fact. Instructors thus far are Scott A. Johnson, Matthew Bey, Jayme Lynn Blaschke (that's me!), Diana Gill, Julie Kenner, Rick Klaw, Alexis Glynn Latner, Jessica Reisman, Chris Roberson, Patrice Sarath, Martha Wells, Wendy Wheeler and Steve Wilson. That list boasts a wide range of editorial, science fiction, fantasy and horror experience, plus we're likely to add one more name in the coming weeks. And did I mention that Special Guest James P. Hogan will be speaking to the workshop? This special talk will only be available to writers' workshop members and instructors. A very cool deal all around, if I do say so myself.

Get writing, folks!

Now Playing: Various The Blues Brothers Soundtrack

Domestic bliss

Before I met Lisa, I had a number of girlfriends--some serious, others less so. Invariably, when it came down to various gift-giving occasions, they would present me with something like cardigan sweaters, cologne or maybe gift certificates for a full pedicure and facial. Needless to say, they would get mighty pissed when I failed to jump for joy. Lisa, on the other hand, gave me a Marvin the Martian shirt for my birthday after we'd been dating only a few months. Marvin the Martian! Eleven years now, and she's yet to disappoint. Case in point: Her 10-year wedding anniversary gift to me:

I ask you, does this woman have her finger on the pulse of my particular brand of geekdom, or what? And no matter what you've heard about this book, it's better. Go buy yourself a copy. Now. You'll be glad you did.

Now Playing: Blue Öyster Cult Workshop of the Telescopes

Baen outlook not good

This update on Jim Baen's condition went up at Baen's Bar this morning. I thought I ought to pass it along here.
Dear Friends of Jim Baen and Baen Books,

At this time we regret we are unable to give you positive news regarding Jim's condition.

As many of you know, last Monday Jim suffered a stroke. The doctors describe it as a massive bilateral stroke in the thalamus. Jim has not regained consciousness and his condition has become severe. He is resting comfortably now, and appears to be in no pain; however the doctors' prognosis is grave.

We know that very many people care for Jim and have been hoping and praying for a positive outcome, but we wanted to share this information with you, as so many have asked and expressed great concern.

Sad news. I suppose there's always hope, but it's diminishing rapidly.

Now Playing: Blue Öyster Cult Workshop of the Telescopes


Wrote another thousand words last night, despite the slight handicap of not being able to breathe. Turned out to be a difficult passage to get down on paper because of the need to convey the choreography clearly. Sometimes scenes play out theatrically in the mind's eye very clearly, but translating that vivid imagery into effective prose can be challenging.
Gauthier and Radek burst into the room, hooting and catcalling. Their momentum carried them several steps in even as they saw the Lidozrout and tried to stop. Gauthier's foot slipped on the bloody floor. Radek ran into him, and they both fell.

The pepper-blue Lidozrout leapt over Jachym to block the doorway.

Jachym lay as still as he could, choking back the pain and terror. His right hand covered the searing wound in his left breast, pressing his bondsash into it to try and stanch the bleeding. He couldn't move his left arm, but it felt as if a thousand tiny crystal shards had buried themselves in it. Through the fog of pain his mind grasped two things-- if he lay where he was, he would bleed to death. And if he moved, the Lidozrout would kill him quicker.

Fun stuff, eh?

On a related note, I just now looked at the calendar and realized I'd be in Houston for Apollocon this weekend. Which means I'll not likely have any time at all for writing. It may be good to take a break and recharge the batteries for a few days (my old Compaq laptop died a year or two back), and technically I don't shedule any writing for the weekends, but still. I worry, with my history of procrastination and slow writing, that if I fall behind now I'll not catch up in time to have this book finished by World Fantasy. Such is life.
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
23,800 / 90,000

Now Playing: Blue Öyster Cult Workshop of the Telescopes

Monday, June 19, 2006

Wasted day

Just so you folks know things ain't all peaches and cream at chez Blaschke, I'm sick today. Yesterday, too, despite the Father's Day jaunt to Old San Antone. I woke up with a raw, sandpapery sore throat, and deep, evil congestion. Yesterday I burned through the last few doses of Vick's DayQuil we had in the medicine cabinet, and life wasn't so miserable. Today, however, I had to buy some more--and all they have these days is the "Reformulated" version, with Phenylephedrine. What a mind-bogglingly useless medication. I'm popping these things like they're going out of style, and I still can't breathe a lick. They're kick-ass when it comes to making my mouth all pasty and inspiring unquenchable thirst, however. They got the suckiness part of the equation right.

Stupid meth dealers. I want my toxic medications back, and available over-the-counter where they belong!

Now Playing: Billy Joel Family Productions Demos

Post-Father's Day report

For my Father's Day meal, we went to San Antonio and dined at Casa Rio on the Riverwalk. The kids then forgave Lisa and I for going to the Riverwalk for our anniversary and not taking them along. We wandered around for a bit, bought a straw, Dwight Yoakum-style cowboy hat for Lisa, a big, floppy, leopard-print "Huggy Bear" type hat for Calista and a charm bracelet for Keela. Ate ice cream. Stopped at Half-Price Books on the way home and browsed only a bit before Orion got cranky.

The gift-giving was pretty much what I've come to expect from my brood. Firstly, there were wonderful framed pictures of each of my children, posed while wearing my clothes. These are now hanging on my office wall. Very cute. I didn't get a present from Lisa/Orion because the Amazon shipment ran late, but I have it on good authority I'm getting the DVD of Dark Star and Jack Williamson's autobiography Wonder's Child. Calista worked the "I'll get something I want that I know he wants, too" angle to perfection, giving me the DVD of Snoopy, Come Home. Good choice. By far the best of the theatrical Peanuts movies. And then Keela... ah, Keela. The child who gave me Supergirl panties last Father's Day presents me with a bottle of mouthwash this time around. And not even Scope or an upscale mouthwash. Nope, generic. She was very proud of her selection as well. I'll give her one thing--predictability is not a trap she's likely to fall into any time soon!

Now Playing: Billy Joel Cold Spring Harbor


I wrote a thousand words over the weekend, which pleases me because of how on-the-go we were, with little time to spare amidst all the family activities. I continue to be fascinated by all the unexpected details and revelations that are cropping up in scenes I'd long thought cut-and-dried in my mind's eye. The Sklo Kostel, for example:
They rode deeper into Braclev. The buildings grew progressively larger and grander. Jachym stared with wide eyes, craning his neck as they passed beneath high towers. The avenue opened to a broad plaza. The rubble from a destroyed building lay strewn about, surrounding the broken remnants of walls. Shards of brilliantly colored glass glittered everywhere. Trees that had once ringed the building had been cut, and weedy grasses and candleleaf crowded for growing space around the long-dead stumps. Most of the buildings bordering the plaza showed scorch-marks from fire. Ctibor halted the coach.

"Is this the right one, Excellency?" Ctibor asked.

"I believe so, Ctibor. Thank you," Vondra said, climbing down. "There were seven Kostels in Braclev before the Apostasy. All were destroyed. This would've been the Sklo Kostel, I think. Its walls were said to be completely covered by cut crystal that caught and reflected every mote of light to reach it. Even in moonlight it was said to dazzle."

Jachym stared at the wreckage. It hurt to even imagine how beautiful it once had been. Gauthier, Radek and Dobromil climbed down from the rear bench and joined Jachym.

Jachym knelt and picked up a scarlet crystal the length of his thumb. It glittered brilliantly, even under overcast skies. He tested the pointed edge with a fingertip, and jerked back. A bead of blood, the same color as the shard, welled up on his finger.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
22,800 / 90,000

Now Playing: Herman's Hermits Greatest Hits

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Alas, Analog

Got Stanley Schmidt's reply back today on "Europa, Deep and Cold." This is what he has to say, in part:
EUROPA, DEEP AND COLD is nicely written, but ultimately (despite the protagonist's survival) too downbeat for our readers' tastes.

Well, hell. This is the closest I've ever come to writing an Analog story, and I suspect, the closest I ever will. Rats.

On the bright side, I now have something to send Asimov's on Monday...

Now Playing: Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here

Friday, June 16, 2006

Wetsilver blog

For reasons comprehensible only to me, I've started a second blog dedicated solely to chronicling my progress on Wetsilver. I'm still going to post updates here, but I wanted a place where I could quickly reference novel-in-progress posts without having to wade through a heck of a lot of other stuff.

And no, it's not a vampire novel. The silver and black just happens to be the best of several website aesthetics. I may go back to an earlier silver and brown design. Or maybe not. It may not look as crisp, but it did have the virtue of being different.

Now Playing: The Grateful Dead In the Dark


Very tired. Hitting that weekly sleep-deprivation wall after staying up too late to write night after night. But I put in 700 good words, and Jachym's finally reached the deserted city:
Reaching high ground, Jachym bent over to catch his breath. The rectangular, powdery-green leaves of a salt-the-earth vine curled around his feet. He looked up, and sucked in his breath.

A great wall stood in the distance, thick with turrets. Behind its protection was a city, full of soaring towers and enormous buildings with walls of faded whites, reds and yellows. On all sides of the city spread out vast, flat fields crisscrossed by canals--all of which were as dry as the river. No people moved. No dogs barked. No sheep bleated. In the sky, far above, a vulture circled, riding a thermal.

On what was once productive cropland, now only salt-the-earth vines grew. As far as the eye could see, thicker than Jachym imagined possible. It was a desert of green. The leaves rustled dryly as the hot wind sighed over them.

"What is this place?" whispered Jachym.

He should enter during tonight's writing, and I'm excited about that. This whole sequence is one that existed in my head, fairly well-developed, since the very first draft of this story I attempted mumbley mumbley years ago. But the scenes have evolved. Realization struck me last night that certain things have changed in the way events will unfold, and there's a heightened degree of complexity in the coming events. For example, I had no idea why Dobromil suddenly showed up in the narrative several chapters back. Now I do. It's fascinating how the mind will put the proper pieces of the puzzle in place even when you've no idea how they ultimately fit into the Big Picture.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
21,800 / 90,000

Now Playing: The Beatles Abbey Road

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Baen update

I just got this information regarding Jim Baen's condition:
Just now posted in Baen's Bar by author Julie Cochrane:

Okay, people, here's what's going on.

Jim Baen is in the ICU after a stroke, it is serious, Toni and a relative are there with him. Now you know as much as we do about his condition.

Baen Books is functioning under the very detailed emergency plans that Jim has in place.

Please don't send cards or flowers. Please do send whatever prayers are appropriate to your faith.

When we know more, we'll let you know.



Now Playing: Monks of the Benedictine Abbey El Calacat with Boy's Choir from L'Alumnat A Treasury of Gregorian Chants

Jim Baen news

Steve Barnes has posted on his blog that editor/publisher Jim Baen has suffered a stroke and is hospitalized. I'm seeing lots of buzz about this online, but thus far nobody's come up with confirmation.

I met Jim, oh, maybe 10 years ago now, hosting him during Aggiecon. Which essentially meant I drove him around, kept him supplied in Subway sandwiches and made sure he got to his panels on time. He was a pleasant fellow, and advised me--aspiring author that I was--to set as many of my short stories as I could in the same universe, that way I could either sell them later on as a fix-up novel or a themed collection. I've always kept that suggestion in mind, although I rarely follow it.

He wasn't very involved in that convention, unfortunately. That was in the months leading up to the publication of Newt Gingrich's much-ballyhooed 1945 alternate history novel, and Baen spent every free moment during the convention in his room doing heavy editing and rewriting of the Gingrich manuscript. What Baen told me about the process was interesting, to say the least.

Now Playing: Ettore Strata Music from the Galaxies


A good writing night, despite a late start for me. I've got a fairly clear idea of where things are headed these next two chapters, so the flow of words is much more robust. Jachym is finally getting some much-needed one-on-one time with Tsukr Vondra, and finally learning just what he's gotten into. It's not something he'd have chosen had he other options, but compared to being eaten by Lidozrout, it ain't half bad.
"Do you know why you are here?"

"Not exactly. There's some kind of religious training in Rokanyky you're taking me to. So I can be a better bondservant for the Kostels, I guess."

She shook her head. "Your being a bondservant has nothing to do with this. At least, not directly. Have you ever heard of Strelecs?"


"Well, you, Radek, Dobromil and Gauthier are all Strelec candidates. It's a religious vocation for men. It demands great dedication and devotion. And yes, there is much training and leaning that go along with it."

"So then, it's like a Knez?"

"More than a Knez. Much more. Strelecs are equal to Tsukrs."

"Will I work blood magic?"

Vondra winced. "Yes. But we prefer it called 'Blood Gift.' It's a gift to men from Tvůrce."

What's particularly interesting to me is the way the current chapter is unfolding. I'd planned for the events approaching at the end of this chapter to take place at the conclusion of the last chapter, but that one grew too long. I'd worried that the held over scenes weren't enough to support a full chapter, but it's shaping up now to be one of the longest chapters I've written thus far. Funny how that works.

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