Monthly Archives: January 2014

You Should Read This: Turn Not Pale, Beloved Snail by Jacqueline Jackson

This may well be the first writing book I ever read. My grandmother met Jackson at a book festival and had her sign a copy for me. The inscription reads: Then turn not pale, beloved snail, but come and join the dance! Keep up your writing — you’re already choreographing the steps!” I have treasured this book for decades and it still, somewhat improbably, even retains its dust jacket.
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Teaser from A Still-untitled Steampunk Piece

This snippet from the story I’m currently working on is set in the same world as recent pieces “Her Windowed Eyes, Her Chambered Heart” and “So Little Comfort in This World.”
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You Should Read This: The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense by Suzette Haden Elgin

This book changed my life. I read it in college, at a time when I was becoming aware of how much could be contained in language. It helped me deal with dysfunctional relationships and it provided strategies for dealing with verbal bullies that I still use on a regular basis. Elgin is also a science fiction writer that I highly recommend, including her book, Native Tongue. I still buy anything I see by Elgin, because I know I’ll end up giving it away.
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You Should Read This: Miss Mole by E.H. Young

There are some books I go back to over and over again, and this is one of them, because I love the main character so much. Hannah Mole is engaging, delightful, and incredibly sympathetic. I originally found this book because it was a Virago Modern Classic, and it is, unfortunately, out of print nowadays. I sincerely hope it’s reissued sometime.
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Recent Writing News (January 2014)

I have seen the cover for the March issue of Asimov’s, which contains my novelette, “All the Pretty Little Mermaids,” and which even features an illustration drawn from the story, although I don’t know the artist yet. Hurray! That’s the second time I’ve appeared in Asimov’s, and I’m very excited about it. I also have a non-fiction piece appearing in the March Analog, an interview with Bud Webster.
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Platform Statement for SFWA Vice President

Well, the statement’s up in the SFWA forums, so I should probably put it here as well. I am running for SFWA VP. I think I can do a good job. Even if you’re not voting for me, please vote … Continue reading

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On Writing: Collaboration And Its Perils

Collaborations can be a lot of fun. My first collaboration came about when Jeff VanderMeer asked if I’d be interested in working together on one and tossed me a 1500 word lump that would end up becoming “The Surgeon’s Tale.” That story remains among one of my favorite pieces of writing, in part because reading back through it evokes the pleasure of batting it back and forth, adding thousand or so word chunks each time, until it ended up in the land of the novelette. I think we managed to make the final result pretty seamless – I have trouble remembering who wrote some bits, although others stand out clearly in my head as Jeff’s or mine, because I remember first reading them or spinning them out.
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You Should Read This: The Forest of Forever by Thomas Burnett Swann

Here’s one of my favorite speculative fiction authors, and it was hard picking a reasonable book to represent him. I have a stack of his paperbacks, garnered over the years in used book stores and thrift shops, and they are some of the books I’ve held onto through any number of rigorous book purges.

The Forest of Forever, by Thomas Burnett Swann, was originally published in 1971. Many of Swann’s slim little volumes appeared during that decade, lovely retellings of Greco-Roman myths and alternate histories full of mythological creatures. Dryads, centaurs, minotaurs, and fauns fill the pages. Swann depicted same-sex relationships as a matter of fact in a way that nowadays seems well ahead of his time.
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You Should Read This: About Writing by Samuel R. Delany

I can’t think of a better book to begin with than a writing book I go back to over and over again, both for teaching and to apply to my own writing. Be aware that many of these essays are also contained in The Jewel-Hinged Jaw.
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You Should Read This: A New Blog Feature

One of my goals in 2014 is to be better about blogging. Towards that end, I’m implementing a daily post, “You Should Read This,” in which I’ll briefly describe a book that I recommend. The plan is to range around a bit, and include notable new fiction, some forgotten classics, some writing books, and some books that I just plain love.

In doing this, I’ve followed the classic quintet of questions: what, who, where, when and why (and sometimes how). I’ll try to keep those brief, to the point, and yet still entertaining.
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