Doug Lain is teaching a six week writers workshop through the Woodstock Community Center and Portland Parks and Recreation starting on July 1st. The course will be run on the Milford Model, but will also feature presentations on aspects of writing from various local writers, including me.
Everyone has a story to tell. Join other raconteurs in a comfortable environment & gain confidence in your inspired abilities. Enjoy guided practice & constructive critiques stirred by imagination & life experience.
Today I headed out to St. Helen’s to have lunch with my buddy Ken Scholes and his beautiful twin girls. I do mean beautiful. I mean babies tend to be cute but these girls are pretty spectacular. It was really good to see Ken. We don’t get to spend enough time together so having some one on one time was very refreshing.
Since the day was nice I decided to bike out which I’m feeling pretty good about. Now. Tomorrow I expect I may feel differently since it was a 36 mile round trip. (For the locals, I should explain that I took the bus to Sauvie’s Island and biked from there. Biking from my house would have been insane.) It’s a beautiful ride, if you can ignore the traffic noise. In a car I’d tell you that it’s level all the way out, but being on a bike really makes you aware of the rise and fall of the land. Fortunately this was all pretty gentle. Getting somewhere under my own steam is very empowering. I really enjoy it.
On the way back I stopped for Dairy Queen — coffee heathbar blizzard — and tried to ignore the incongruity of massive bike ride and junk food. Mmm… blizzard.
Here are the beautiful daughters of Ken and Jen Scholes. Rachel (5 lbs 3 oz.) and Lizzie (5lbs 6 oz.) were delivered this morning and all are doing well.
I’m so happy for my friends and can’t wait to meet the young ladies.
Through the magic of wireless, Ken snapped a photo of the girls and I’m posting it here, with permission, for your viewing pleasure. They are about three hours old in this photo. Ken reports that they are the most beautiful babies in the world. I find it hard to disagree with him.
Ken is one of my dearest friends and he’s also one of my favorite authors, which is a handy combination.Â If you’re in the Seattle area, you can head over the the U-bookstore for his signing.Â Â But if that’s too far away and you want a sampling of Scholes, Tor.com has one of his short stories up.
Alan Roberts came to the “Strolling with the Stars” event that Stu Segal had arranged and offered me this photo.Â It is my very favorite one.Â Let me tell you what is happening here.Â I’m standing between Jay Lake and John Scalzi, two men who are dear friends as well as being former Campbell winners.Â I feel so very proud to share their company, not just because of our friendship but because I admire them both tremendously as writers.
On my left wrist, you see that corsage?Â My friends Ken Scholes and Jen West gave me that.Â Jen loaned her husband to me for the night as my escort.Â See, I’d told Rob to stay home because I was so sure that I wouldn’t win but Ken volunteered to be my date.Â Never did a girl feel so supported.Â It was like going to the prom, but so much better.
Honestly, as much as the Campbell award means to me, the larger thing that it represents is embodied in these guys.Â I am daunted by their talent, but at the same time, I know that I am supported by them.Â And that support is why this is my favorite picture.
Jennifer Jackson is answering questions about agenting, on her LJ. And today she was talking about the role of net-working and conferences. It’s worth reading, but she basically says that all the net-working in the world won’t make a difference if the book isn’t good. Then she says:
On the other hand, Elizabeth Bear introduced me to Jay Lake, who in turn set up a meeting with Ken Scholes, and he recommended Mary Robinette Kowal, who became a new client of mine last month. (That makes it Mary’s turn….) So, it certainly has its advantages. They still all had to write really, really, really, really ridiculously good books.
Which set me thinking… See, the thing is, that Ken’s introduction let me jump the slush pile. BUT if I’d sent in my first novel, Jennifer would have rejected me. The novel I signed with is the fourth that I’ve written.
The evolution goes like this:
Novel 0: Took ten years, starting from high school, to write. It is well and firmly trunked. (Shape-shifting cat/human aliens with wings anyone? Did I mention my D&D character has the same name? Yeah… trunk. TRUNK.)
Novel 1: Middle-grade Fantasy – Six months. I think this has potential, but there’s a flaw in the first three chapters that I can’t seem to fix. I sent this out to publishers on my own for a while, and always got requests for partials but no requests for fulls. Now. This is book one in a series. Did I write the second book in the series next? No.
Novel 2: Science Fiction/Murder Mystery – Four months. Better. It needed revisions, so I set it aside to think about before diving into it. Meanwhile, I wrote:
Novel 4: Regency romance/Fantasy – Three months. Good! This immediately felt stronger than the others and I had a clear view of what changes needed to happen. So I didn’t wait on the revisions. This is the one I signed with.
The point being, that it took a while for me to learn to write something salable and that if I’d sent in any of the others, I think I would still be without an agent because those books aren’t there yet. I do think they can be, but the course I chose to take — and mileage varies — was to write novels in several different genres to see which one stuck. I have sequel ideas for all of them, but until I knew that I had a book one that worked, it didn’t make sense to invest time in a string of books in the same world.
At the moment, I’m doing revisions on Novel 2 and continuing to work on short stories. Right now, I’m at a point in my career where I have the luxury of taking a year off from a novel before doing revisions. Since I’m a better writer now than I was a year ago, waiting to revise the novels is like earning interest on my skills. Seriously. I re-read Novel 2 and it was dead easy to see where it had gone astray. The revision process is like swimming downstream.
Now, let’s say that Ken offered to introduce me before I’d written Novel 4. I knew Novel 1 was flawed, so sending it in would have been wasting that opportunity. What’s more, it would have been embarrassing to Ken.
I’m sure that someday I’ll introduce a writer to Jennifer, but I can almost guarantee that it won’t be with their first novel.
Jennifer Jackson of Donald Maass Literary Agency has just offered me representation. Naturally, I said, “yes.”
And then I ran around in circles, weeping and giggling.
See, I don’t blog about everything but back in January, I made the very hard decision to leave to leave my agent. The details aren’t important, but it wasn’t easy to decide to jump back into the dating pool. It really did feel like I was breaking up with a boyfriend to be single again.
While I was moping, Ken Scholes told me that I should send my manuscript to his agent, which I had already wanted to do. She’s done wonderful things for him and I liked everything I heard about her. It was nice, though, to get Ken’s blessing before sending in that manuscript.
And today, oh man, today the acceptance email came in. I have to tell you that I looked at the subject line and thought, “this is going to be a rejection.” And then it wasn’t and I burst into tears. Yes, I can be very girly.
Really, when people tell you that an agent/author relationship is closer to a marriage than anything else, I think they know what they are talking about. After courting Jennifer Jackson, I do feel like I’ve just been proposed to.
I’m looking forward to what the future holds. It feels very, very bright right now.
Still looking for that perfect Christmas gift? Look no further!
Subscribe to Shimmer by January 10, and youâ€™ll get 4 issues of terrific new speculative fiction and art for only $17.00 (plus postage). Weâ€™re going to raise our rates then, so this is your last chance to subscribe at this price.
Bonus: We asked Shimmer favorite Ken Scholes to write a special holiday story for us – and he came through with â€œWhat Child Is This I Ask the Midnight Clear,â€ a post-apocalyptic Christmas tale. Weâ€™ll be posting the story on our site soon; but as a special thank-you, anyone who subscribes (or renews!) by January 10 will get a lovely signed chapbook of the story.
Last night’s build of the dog went much faster because Ken Scholes was in town and visited me in the studio. He is one of my favorite people and getting a chance to just yak away unto the wee hours was great. Plus he had brandy. He’s got his view of yesterday up on his site.
Me? I’m printing up stage money and putting blood on the dog.
We always talk about villains getting their just deserts, but would about the good guys? I mean, when a friend has worked hard, has talent and then gets what he deserves, shouldn’t he be allowed just desserts? I like desserts ((Yes, I know it uses the other spelling, but “just deserts” gets this pronunciation.)) ; why should the bad guys get them all?
So let me point out a good guy fellow who has just gotten what he deserves. Ken Scholes, one of the hardest working and most talented writers I know, has just sold his first novel to Tor. That’s sweet. But what makes it sweeter is that they want his entire five book series. If you ask me, that’s just dessert.
ON MY SHELF
Prime Codex, edited by Lawrence Schoen and Michael Livingston:
I picked this up at CONduit last weekend at a reading by Eric James Stone, who has published multiple stories in places like Analog SF and IGMS. Heâ€™s a member of the Codex Writers Group, and stories by members of that group comprise this anthology. Ericâ€™s remarkable and moving story, â€œSalt of Judasâ€ joins stories by new and exciting writers like Mary Robinette Kowal, Ken Scholes, and Tobias Buckell. So if you want to read what the best of the new writers are writing, the Prime Codex anthology is a must-buy. Get your copy here.
If you are curious, you can listen to the audio version of my story here, before you pick up the anthology.
Today was one of those odd days where I did a lot, but felt like my wheels were just spinning. I did novel revisions, had lunch with Ken Scholes, ran errands, went to the coffee shop and actually wrote, and cleaned the basement. Yet somehow, I feel like I got nothing accomplished. Why is that?
(Tor Books – July 14 2020) Mary Robinette Kowal continues her Hugo and Nebula award-winning Lady Astronaut series, following The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky, with The Relentless Moon. The Earth is coming to the boiling point as the climate disaster of the Meteor strike becomes more and more clear, but the political situation is already overheated. Riots and […]