Not burying the lede, part II: I invite you to read my new story at Slate, which is a nice addition to my CV, let me tell you. It's part of the Trump Story Project, curated by Ben H. Winters (who wrote one of my favorite books, The Last Policeman, which I commend unto you all along with its sequels.) The Trump Story Project consists of ten stories, each by a different author, envisioning what the USA might become over the next four years or so, if current situations continue unchecked. (One of the classic SF tropes: the "If This Goes On," story, named of course for the classic Heinlein work about a Christian fascist future America...
It apparently has some comments on it, which I have not read, so approach them with caution. You never know what might be lurking down there!
And that's what leads me to the title of this newsletter. As part of my current commitment to taking better care of myself again, I'm trying to unplug a bunch. To get my news from actual newspapers (The Washington Post, Boston Globe, New York Times, and our local paper here in the snowbound but rapidly melting Pioneer Valley*, The Hampshire Gazette) and to limit my exposure to once a day or so, and the breaking news alerts which they all helpfully send to my phone.
Anyway--I share this because I know for a fact that I'm not the only person who's been suffering some current events anxiety recently--I have taken some steps to correct that. I logged out of Twitter on my phone (well, I'm still logged in as the @kjittens, but they only follow fuzzy animal accounts so it's fine.) and changed my password to something that's a real pain in the ass to type on a tiny screen. I rearranged my desktop Twitter feed--I use Tweetdeck--to remove the Home column and make my mentions and messages and so forth take up the left side of the display. I have a curated feed of a single list that's way off to the right, where I have to scroll to get to it, and I just don't look at the main Twitter firehose anymore.
I've even ditched Facebook almost entirely, which bothers me a little because I use it to keep up with my oldest friends and distant family members, but I set up notifications for when those people post, so I have that.
Basically, I'm setting up boundaries, which means reminding myself a lot that constant access to a 24/7 firehose of information is actually not all that good for one, and I somehow managed to survive a good 35 years of my life without it. (I also remind myself that the 24-hour news cycle is a morass of toxicchurn, and I will get better information less stressfully if I just read the damned paper. The way people used to, when I was a kid, and well into my thirties. Also, some of those papers are doing some pretty amazing journalism currently, so I want to support them.)
Anyway, I hope some of that is helpful to some of you.
In other news, I just got back from Boskone and a signing at Pandemonium Books in Cambridge, and that is the last travel I have to do until late May. I'm actually super excited about this, because I plan to get all the work done. So far, actually, I've been productive enough to make me really happy since about mid-December.
I'm using a thing called Pacemaker, which Holly Black turned me on to, and which is pretty darn useful for managing work to deadlines.I'm not actually using it to tell me how much work I should do on any given day, but it is allowing me to track where I am in regard to my deadlines, and it's also allowing me to manage my anxiety about performance and production by showing me that I'm actually making progress. I tend to be a little bad about internalizing that I have actually done a lot, without some kind of external reinforcement tool to remind me not to be a lunatic workaholic. So this and my handy wordcount logging spreadsheet work well.
(Wordcount logging spreadsheet tells me that I have written over 80K of paying copy so far this year, so hey, go me, I'm knocking it out of the park.)
Scott is also home, until he goes off to France for France for Imaginales on the second to last weekend of May (yes, I'm a little jealous, and torn between wangling a spouse ticket and staying home with the kittens and Not Going Anywhere ahhhh.) and he's been writing like a bastard (or maybe like a Bastard) on a couple of projects.
I will be signing and possibly doing some other events at SF-Bokhandeln in Stockholm (in the lovely Gammla Stan) August 7-8, along with Scott Lynch, Fran Wilde, possibly Amanda Downum, and now apparently Annie Bellet--and maybe some others?
Further travel schedule is undetermined, but dammit I want to go see the eclipse.
Scott and I have both handed in stories for Gardner Dozois' upcoming Book of Swords, which also has people like C. J. Cherryh, Robin Hobb, Ken Liu, Peter S. Beagle, and that George Martin guy in it, so yeah, I feel like I'm sitting at the big kid's table here.
Scott's story is called "The Smoke of Gold is Glory," and it's about a down-on-his luck rogue and the end of the world. Mine is called "The King's Evil," and it's an Eternal Sky world story starring the Gage and the Dead Man in a tropical paradise. Of sorts.
The Book of Swords is out October 10th of this year, and I believe it's available for pre-order already. That, coincidentally, happens to be the same say that The Stone in the Skull is out, which is also available for pre-order and also stars the Gage and The Dead Man.
I'm currently working (or avoiding working) on a science fiction haunted house story that I can't talk too much about yet, and I just handed in "Perfect Gun" to Jonathan Strahan for a forthcoming military SF anthology, and it was accepted. Also, Tordotcom has purchased the rights to Stone Mad, which was formerly titled Rook and Ruin, for its novella line.
I also have 50K of Ancestral Night written--this is the space opera coming out fro Gollancz in the UK and Saga in the US next year--which is about a third of the book. I'm taking a break from it to bang out some of this short stuff in part because, well, this is the point where I need to go back and restructure the first third of the novel to support the weight of the rest, and a little distance helps from that. And this way, I won't have any other deadlines interfering when I really want to get down into the novel and push.
It feels amazing to be productive again,after the well of distraction and confusion and conflicting life demands that was 2016.
So there you have it! One long chatty email.
Hope it finds you well, and see you again at some random but not too long interval!
*recently rebranded for purposes of tourism and business climate as WEST MASS, because... I dunno? We paid a lot of money to some company in Ohio for that piece of genius, though.
I did recently learn that people refer to the hippie towns like the one I live in as existing "behind the tofu curtain," though, which I kind of love. Hoping a little political activism will get me in touch with my neighbors.
_________________ I invite you to check in at my Patreon and Livejournal for more frequent updates, including a fair amount of nattering about writing craft recently. The Patreon also has occasional bits of fiction, including sneak previews of works in progress, for patrons only.