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Alpha Centauri Bb [17 Oct 2012|07:27pm]
[ mood | excited ]

Now we have somewhere for our hundred-year starship initiative to go. One thing we've learned from seventeen years of planet hunting is that if there's one extrasolar planet in a given system, there's likely to be more....

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A Very Important Decision [01 Jan 2012|09:09pm]
[ mood | whimsical ]

Last night I went to a lovely New Year's Eve party co-hosted by zellandyne. The other hosts had a pond full of koi out back. The sight of the largish fish darting around the shadowy pool got me thinking (always a dangerous situation).

We all know that, as humans, we have some common ancestors.  Mitochondrial Eve was not that long ago, and before her all mammals, all vertebrates even, almost certainly descended from a single pair of highly successful -- in evolutionary terms -- fish.  Those fish were, let's face it, not all that bright, and they most certainly didn't get named by their equally un-bright parents.

So watching the koi sometime after midnight, I decided to name those long-ago aqueous ancestors of ours Butch and Gladys.  And since we don't know the the exact dates when they hatched, I'm declaring January 1st to be Butch and Gladys Day.

Happy Butch and Gladys Day, everyone!

As you were....

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A Dream Within a Dream [30 Nov 2011|03:19pm]
[ mood | awake ]

Last night I dreamed that Debby and I lived in beautiful apartment with two huge balconies and, unfortunately, electrical problems. While the building maintenance guys were in the apartment investigating the latter, I went for a walk around the multi-building complex. It was a sunny day, and several people were about, including a young woman wearing adult braces and nothing else. I said hi and tried not to stare when we passed, as one does in these situations. She replied with a shy metallic smile and a somewhat embarrassed hi back, though she soldiered on without trying to hide or cover herself.

That made me wonder, after she'd passed by, whether she was having a naked-in-public dream. This would make me a figment of her imagination, I realized, just a shadowy figure in her dream. That thought gave me pause. Cogito ergo sum is cold comfort at such a moment, so I stopped to consider my own sense of reality. I was rather alarmed to discover my current situation didn't feel very much like waking reality at all. I never quite made the leap of logic to a fully lucid dream, wherein I knew I was dreaming.

Then I woke up and felt fully real again. Although I can't help but wonder, just a little, if my dream didn't brush up against someone else's....

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Writing Roundup [29 Nov 2011|07:32pm]
[ mood | pleased ]

For those who buy ebooks, tonight is the last night of Hadley Rille Books' sixth anniversary ebook sale, which includes 99-cent Kindle and Nook versions of The Aether Age: Helios, featuring my story "Phobos."

At World Fantasy Con, I co-wrote a very short, rather silly bit of fiction with three other writers on the back of a bar napkin, which was featured on Bizarro Central's website here. It's called "Please Call Me, Kreayshawn." The title refers to a musician from Oakland whom I hadn't heard of before that evening. (Please note: the text includes mild profanity. And a crayfish.)

Finally, I got a phone call on Thanksgiving Day from the Writers of the Future contest coordinator: I am a finalist in this quarter's contest. That means I have a 3 in 8 chance of winning this quarter. I should know the final results sometime in the coming weeks.

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Sitarin' [21 Sep 2011|10:57pm]
[ mood | happy ]

For those in the Bay Area, I'll be doing a couple of sitar lecture/demonstrations at branches of the San Jose library this Saturday (9/24) at the King library and next Saturday (10/1) at the Almaden branch.

Each session is free and runs from 3-4 PM. I'll demonstrate the parts of a traditional raga, talk about North Indian classical music, discuss how the sitar itself works, and show also how it can be used for modern East/West music.

I wrote a bit more about them on my website as well.

For those who know my folks, or who'd like to meet them, they'll be at the event this coming Saturday.

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Welcome the the Neo-Golden Age [20 Jul 2011|12:50am]
[ mood | wistful ]

I have mixed feelings about the demise of Borders, having spent so long mourning the independent bookstores that got squeezed out of the business by Borders and Barnes & Noble. And it was obvious for some time that Borders had its head in the sand with regard to the whole Internet thing, while B&N's been trying its best to position itself in a place or places that would allow it to survive Amazon (we'll see how successful that endeavor is with time).

On the other hand, the only non-used bookstore walking distance from our house was a Borders, and a rather nice one, which closed in the first wave. I miss just wandering over there and checking out new titles.

So I find myself oddly wistful about the demise of a huge corporation that killed a bunch of independent bookstores. If nothing else, it means there will be a whole lot fewer places to hold author readings moving forward, and I don't see that trend abating anytime soon.

The demise of Borders is, of course, part of the book industry's ongoing shakeup, and I do think overall that shakeup will have positive long-term effects. Borders' initial growth (along with B&N's) led to many negative things for authors' careers and the publishing industry over the last twenty years: the mainstreaming of the books getting publisher dollars, authors having to use pseudonyms, the death of the midlist, etc.

Which is why I find it odd that my emotional reaction is more wistful and less dancing on its grave (though there's some of that too). I think it may be that I just like bookstores. :-) I want there to be more of them in the future, but I know there will be fewer and fewer.

I miss Chicago's Kroch's and Brentano's, People Like Us, and the Stars Our Destination. I miss Austin's Adventures in Crime and Space (now exclusively a web enterprise). In the Bay Area, I miss Future Fantasy, A Wrinkle in Time, A Different Light, Cody's, and many others.

And now, oddly, I'll miss Borders.

To quote Hawkwind's "Welcome to the Future":

Welcome to the neo-golden age
Welcome to the days you've made

Or as Stephen King's Roland Deschain might say, the world has moved on.

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Know Your Goals [03 Jun 2011|04:26pm]
[ mood | hopeful ]

In a recent article on the Inkpunks website, Adam Israel encourages new writers to ponder their writing goals. I've sold a few stories now, so it's a good time for me to list the long-term goals for my own writing. Here they are, in some semblance of order:

• Write more stories.
• Sell them.
• Get paid.
• Write a novel.
• Sell it.
• Get paid.
• Lather, rinse, repeat.
• Make a living at it.
• Quit the day job.
• Write more.
• Win awards.
• Have my books and stories made into movies, which then become popular.
• Become beloved by millions.
• Parlay my fame into a political career.
• Run for US President.
• Win.
• Fund SETI.
• Contact ET.
• Make friends with ET.
• Schmooze the aliens into letting Earth join the galactic federation.
• Get the aliens to give us longevity and FTL travel technology.
• Build a starship with the billions of dollars I'll have from book royalties.
• Travel the universe as Earth's first ambassador to the galactic federation.

It's important to have goals.

Seriously, though, it's a great article, and a nice starting place for information for newbie writers. I also have a list of resources for writers on my website.

And to them what write: happy writing!

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BayCon and other Artistic Endeavors [26 May 2011|10:50am]
[ mood | cheerful ]

This weekend, I'll be a program participant at BayCon, including doing a reading Sunday afternoon in the 4:00-5:30 slot. There's only one other author with me, so you should get a fair amount of my stuff if you go.

My full BayCon schedule is this:

Sunday, May 29 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM Launching a Creative Career
Given the changes in markets and technology for artists, writers, and musicians, panelists discuss some of the benefits and challenges in launching a creative career in the current era.
This should be interesting, as I'm constantly learning about this m'self.

Sunday, May 29 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM Themed Reading: Science Fiction
Come listen to two of our authors read from their science fiction works.
The other author is Deborah J. Ross

Monday, May 30 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM Writing Science Fiction
Panelists discuss some of the special issues in writing science fiction vs. other genres.
I'll be moderating.

In other news, Debby's ballet teacher cast her in a ballet that's being performed on Saturday, both evening and matinee shows. It's called The Fairies, and it's based on Les Fées by Charles Perrault.

Finally, Debby and I are both singing Verdi's Requiem with the San Jose Symphonic Choir the following Saturday, June 4th.

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Eine Kleine Nachtmusik [20 Apr 2011|10:32am]
[ mood | amused ]

I have read, when awake, that in dreams one cannot read because the part of the brain that decodes written language is inactive. I know from experience that's balderdash. In my more lucid dreams (once also thought impossible by many psychologists, by the way), I've deliberately read out loud, so as to try to grasp the meaning of these dream texts. I've read everything from open books to fortune cookie notes this way, and succeeded. Mind you, the texts didn't actually make sense, and they had a tendency to morph even while I was looking at them, but I could read them out loud. This exercise generally causes me to wake up, so I've even jotted down a few peculiar dream-text phrases from time to time.

Last night, I read dream music for the first time. A professor/teacher-type figure handed me a sheet of Western staff notation, asking me to fill in some transitional notes between two chords arranged for the piano in six-part harmony. The wacky dreamlike nature of the score showed in a key signature consisting of F-sharp and B-flat, a combination you won't see in real life because it doesn't describe any major or minor key in the Western harmonic system. The F-sharp itself does connote G major (or its relative minor, but one can figure out which by looking at the chords themselves), and in the dream I decided the score was in that key. (For music nerds: I apparently decided that the raised leading tone was a greater indicator of both the tonic and of major modality than the lowered third degree.)

For the transitional chord I was adding, I decided I wouldn't move all the notes and that the ones I did move, I'd move by half-steps, to best preserve the original character of the progression while still adding my notes. (Again, for music nerds: in the dream I thought of it as effectively a double suspension, because I moved three notes of the six-part harmony, and left two in place, one of which was mirrored at the octave. However, in reality I would have needed a second transitional chord for it to be a true double suspension, because the notes I added were not borrowed from the original second chord in the progression.) Among other notes, I inserted an A between a high B-flat and a high G in the soprano line.

I mention these specifics in part to fend off any naysayers about my actually having read and edited the notation in the dream, vs. simply thinking I had afterwards, and in part because it's just so cool. :-)

Beyond the odd key signature, other parts of the dream were quite dreamlike. For example, when I went to play my draft of the additions I'd made to the score, I kept not hearing the lower notes of the arpeggiated first chord until I found and turned up the volume knob on the acoustic piano I'd been playing. "I've never seen a piano with a volume knob before," I told the teacher. Also, the keyboard had a tendency to shorten itself when I wasn't looking, so when I tried to play the low notes, the fingers of my left hand wound up in a silverware drawer instead.

Why have this dream now? Well, it might be the result of singing a three-hour Bach piece on Sunday, followed by lots of singing at seders the two nights following. Or, it could just be the way my mind works....

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Bach Around the Clock [16 Apr 2011|11:12am]
[ mood | excited ]

Debby and I have spent the last couple of years singing with the San Jose Symphonic Choir. This Sunday at 3 PM, we'll be performing J. S. Bach's Matthäus-Passion in Saratoga. It's a three-hour-long work for soloists, two (large) Baroque choirs, and two (small) Baroque orchestras. It's operatic in scope. It's in German. It's very, very Lutheran.

And it's on Wikipedia!

The flyer for the event can be found here on the SJSC website.

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FOGcon Memories [14 Mar 2011|12:37pm]
[ mood | content ]

Before my memories fade into, well, the fog, here are some of the highlights from FOGcon:

• A truly great panel on race, class, and urban planning -- in keeping with the convention's theme of the city in SF/F. Really thoughtful insights and great audience participation. (Actually, those characteristics defined all the panels I attended.) Panelists included moderator Steven Schwartz, Ian K. Hagemann, Katharine Kerr, and Vylar Kaftan.

Jeff VanderMeer's reading from his novel-in-progress Borne. I'm really looking forward to the book's debut.

• The writers' Kaffeeklatsch with Ann & Jeff VanderMeer at nearby Contraband Coffee, during which both VanderMeers gave great advice, answered questions, and shared their insights with a dozen or so writers. Thanks to Jaym Gates & Raw Dog Screaming Press for organizing this outing!

• The Outer Alliance dinner at a nearby thai restaurant. Great discussion about queer SF/F.

• The reading by Steven R. Boyett from his forthcoming Subterranean Press novel, Mortality Bridge. Steve memorizes much of what he performs at readings and uses dramatic techniques to really bring his texts to life. In this case, the book from which read so well was a long-term (read: 26-year) project that came from the heart. All told, this event was the highlight of the convention programming for me.

I'd like to thank those of you who made it to my own reading and/or the panel I was on (You Know Who You Are You Wonderful People You), and I hope you enjoyed them!

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Potlatch Roundup [09 Mar 2011|01:09am]
[ mood | happy ]

I had a great time at Potlatch this year. It's the sixth one I've been to, as I've made it to every Bay Area one since Jack London Square in '98. As usual, while I spent some time in the single track of programming, mostly I ate (and drank) with friends, including a new friend or two I met along the way. Potlatch has the vibe of a relaxacon, though it's a full-on convention with a dealers' room, programming, and a (terrific) con suite.

I also read my story "Kraken's Wake" from Cinema Spec at the reading session, alongside fellow authors Terry Bisson, Madeleine Robins, Howard V. Hendrix, Rachel Swirsky, Vylar Kaftan (vylar_kaftan), David D. Levine (davidlevine), and Eileen Gunn (who read from a work in progress she's co-writing with Rudy Rucker). At Potlatch, the reading session is a pretty free-form affair scheduled opposite the Algonquins, in keeping with the general relaxed atmosphere of the convention.

Good meals and good conversations were had, a good weekend overall. I'm looking forward to FOGcon, where I'll be doing more formal reading panel, as well as a future cities panel (the convention's theme this year is the city in SF/F).

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Coolest Film Ever [07 Mar 2011|11:16pm]
[ mood | awed ]

A work-in-progress IMAX film will contain a cruise through the Saturn system created by combining still images from Cassini. The film's website has test clips here; io9's Annalee Newitz writes about it here.

I look at these clips and think of the hours I spent in childhood viewing grainy pictures of Saturn and wondering what it really looked like up close, what it would be like to actually be there.

Now I know, and you know what? It's the opposite of anticlimax.

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Tentacles in the Aether [15 Feb 2011|06:43pm]
[ mood | hopeful ]

Next month I'll be at FOGcon, where I'll be appearing on a panel about cities of the future. I'm also lucky enough to be sharing a reading slot with the awesome Madeleine Robins and the fabulous M. Christian.

I haven't yet worked out the exact timing, but I'll most likely be reading my Aether Age story "Phobos" in its entirety. I've only ever read it at WisCon, so this would be my first Bay Area performance of it. If there's time afterward, I'll also read from a giant-space-squid story, 'cause, you know, who doesn't like giant space squids? (Well, maybe giant space sperm whales, but there aren't any of those in my fiction. Not yet anyway.)

I'll also be at Potlatch the weekend before, but there I'll just be hanging out. :-)

Speaking of the Aether Age, the editors of The Aether Age: Helios have put together an awards-eligible fiction page for stories in the book. If you're voting for the Hugos and/or Nebulas and you haven't yet seen the book, drop me a line. We'll talk.

In other news, I once more made semi-finalist in the Writers of the Future contest, this time with one of my stories about -- you guessed it -- giant space squids. Not too shabby for cephalopods from another world. You can read an excerpt from a different story about them on the sample fiction page of my website. The full version appeared in the Cinema Spec anthology, for those who want to know what happened next. >:-)

Finally, in even more other news, I'm working on a novel. It's not about cephalopods, but there might be a whiff of aether here or there. That remains to be seen....

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Writing News [29 Nov 2010|01:13pm]
[ mood | accomplished ]

In a Raven Electrick Ink three-peat, I recently sold a story to next fall's anthology Jack-o'-Spec: Tales of Halloween and Fantasy by the publisher of Cinema Spec and Retro Spec. Like the previous books, Jack-o'-Spec will feature a combination of fiction and poetry, and my contribution will once again be a science fiction story. This one's a steampunk ghost story (but a scientific one!), which makes me officially both a steampunk and a ghost story author. :-)

Also, today sees the release of the shared world anthology in which I have the lead story. It's out in hardcover as well as trade paperback, so it's my first hardcover appearance. W00t! (It'll soon come out as an ebook too, but it hasn't yet.) It's called The Aether Age: Helios, and it's the first of three projected Aether Age anthologies.

Amazon has the trade paperback here; I'm told the hardcover will be available there soon. Currently, Amazon has no discount on the cover price, but if you want to help boost our Amazon sales rank, today's the day.

Another option would be to order directly from publisher Hadley Rille Books here, in either hardcover or paperback. The publisher is having a fifth anniversary sale and is offering free shipping to boot. They have lots of other cool books on sale, including the Footprints anthology I appeared in last year.

I've been working on a novel, and I've been writing nearly every day, both good things. The novel first draft is humming along.

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Reading in LA [26 Sep 2010|08:42pm]
[ mood | tired ]

Last night I read my story "R101 Is Burning" as part of the Retro Spec launch party. I put some pictures up here.

After the reading and celebratory dinner, which four of my LA-based friends attended, fritters, ladytiamat, and I went to Glow, an event that takes place one night every two years, featuring Burning-Man-esque glowy art. They took over the beach by the Santa Monica Pier, the pier itself, and nearby environs. I took a few pictures of that too.

While we still felt the afterglow after Glow, we got blintzes, other snacks, and Cel-Ray soda at Izzy's Deli in Santa Monica. I had a lot of fun at both events, and I drove back home this morning.

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Oktapodi [14 Sep 2010|10:33pm]
[ mood | amused ]

Though it came out in 2007, I just discovered this cute two-minute animation about the trials and tribulations of a pair of octopuses in love. In addition to featuring a very endearing pair of cephalopods (always a plus in my book), it takes place in a Greek village with some truly lovely vistas. Greek island towns look just like that too, except for the lack of octopuses hurling through the air at high velocity. Great violin work on the soundtrack as well.

In other news, I just got a rejection and sent the story out again within half an hour. I love web submission forms....

(And it was a personal rejection rather than a form rejection -- always appreciated.)

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Expanded Website [08 Sep 2010|05:35pm]
[ mood | accomplished ]

I've expanded my writing and music website in myriad ways this week: new writing & music bios, sample fiction, and a sample song (in audio & video forms) from an Eclipse Trip performance. The fiction section presents the openings of some of my published short stories and reprints of all the tweet-length stories that I've thus far sold to Twitter-based markets.

Please feel free to drop by and let me know what you think!

I'm toying with the idea of putting the entire story "Kraken's Wake" online. Arguments for doing so: it's already sold, published, and the rights have reverted to me; at 1,400 words, it's a good length for online reading; it'd be nice to have one complete piece longer than a tweet up on my site. Arguments against doing so: although published last year, the anthology it's in is still in print; always leave 'em wanting more, as a general principle; having it online might impact its ability to get resold to reprint markets. Any thoughts about that would also be appreciated.

I created the current version of the site in iWeb, which proved really easy to use. I like iWeb enough that I'll stick with it as long as I don't need to do anything it doesn't do. As the site expands, however, I may need to migrate to a more professionally focused web design platform, so I'm curious if other folks have opinions about other Mac-based web design programs.

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New Story Out [05 Sep 2010|09:01pm]
[ mood | happy ]

The anthology Retro Spec: Tales of Fantasy and Nostalgia -- featuring my story "R101 Is Burning" -- is now out from Raven Electrick Ink, available at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Soon I'm told it will also be at San Francisco's Borderlands Books and LA's Flintridge Bookstore and Coffeehouse.

Along with other contributors, I'll be appearing at Flintridge on September 25th for the book launch event. I'll be reading my story, and others will be reading stories or poems from the book.

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Today's Astronomy Picture [23 Aug 2010|12:54pm]
[ mood | enthralled ]

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is awesome (and awe-inspiring) even for this series. It's a beautiful long-exposure view of the Milky Way, in a place where its light was sufficient to cast shadows. There's also a movie of it here.

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