Not a Blog

This, That, and t’Other Thing

December 12, 2007 at 9:44 pm
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Lots of things to blog about, if I kept a blog. (This little thing doesn’t count, no sir, not no way, not no how). Alas, there’s no time. Too damned much to do. So, instead, just a few quick hits.

This morning I was crosstown walking the picket lines at the College of Santa Fe, doing my little bit for the WGA and the writer’s strike. Support your local writers! This is the most crucial strike of my era, and will determine whether writers (and actors and directors, eventually) get a fair share of revenues for internet videos, webisodes, and all the other new delivery platforms for the net, or whether they continue to get ripped off.

Finished a Tyrion chapter yesterday, one I’ve been struggling with for months. Made a major change to the end of the chapter, one I think works much better than what I had before.

Also tackled another Tyrion chapter that had been giving me trouble, mainly by ripping Tyrion out of the scene entirely and rewriting the whole damn thing from another point of view. Not quite done with that one yet, but I think it will work better as well. However, I am keeping the old Tyrion POV version of the same events on my computer, just in case I change my mind later and decide to go back.

Dark Sword Miniatures has been shipping the first ten of their ICE & FIRE minis. I just got my box. Okay, okay, I’m prejudiced, but I think they look wonderful. Hey, they’re by Tom Meier, how could you go wrong? Purchase the complete set by December 15 and you’ll still be eligible for the drawing for the autographed books and other prizes. Contest details below, in my earlier blog post. Order via Dark Sword’s website. The link is below as well. And hey, pewter miniatures make wonderful stocking stuffers for that collector in the family (NOT for small kids, though, these are not toys).

SFWA has replaced Andrew Burt as chairman of its controversial Copyright Committee. I hope that pleases all those who were yelling and screaming about SFWA being unresponsive, paleolithic, etc. Hey, you guys won, Burt has stepped aside, you can take off the hob-nailed boots now. Can we all join ranks again and try to make things better for writers?

Some very nice reviews coming in on the two new books I have coming out next month, and from some unexpected places. HUNTER’S RUN got a four-star review from… wait for it… ROMANTIC TIMES. That’s very cool. I always knew I was a romantic. And the new Wild Cards book, INSIDE STRAIGHT, has been getting great reviews all over the place. Here’s two:

I have to say, I am very gratified by all the raves that we’ve been getting for INSIDE STRAIGHT. My hat is off to my contributors. They did a terrific job. Check this one out, boys and girls. I think you’re going to enjoy meeting Jonathan Hive, Lohengrin, Earth Witch, Bubbles, Drummer Boy, and all the rest of our aces and jokers.

Football… ah, what can I say? The Giants won a squeaker over the Iggles to go to 9-4, but it wasn’t what I’d call a convincing win. A truefan never gives up hope, but unless they can really get on a tear these last few games, I’m not convinced that Eli can take them far in the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Jets lost to the Browns, and now face the hated Patriots and Evil Little Bill. This could be ugly. Oddly enough, I won’t sweat the Jets-Patriots game nearly as much as I will the Giants and the Redskins. The Giants need to beat the Skins to lock up their playoff berth, but the Jets season is already over and everyone expects them to get crushed this weekend, so there’s no real pressure. Did any of you catch HBO’s INSIDE THE NFL tonight? Have to say, I loved Chris Collingsworth’s version of Eric Mangini’s pregame speech. I hope Mangenius was watching.

Elsewhere in the NFL, the big news is Bobby Petrino. What a scumbag. His players said it better than I could. No integrity, no courage, no honor. Maybe it’s fitting that he’s run off to a team whose mascot is a pig.

Some readers have been asking me to update my WHAT I’M READING and WHAT I’M WATCHING pages. I mean to, honest, I just haven’t had the time. On the “watching” front, I did catch THE MIST, and would strongly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good old fashioned monster movie. This isn’t torture-porn like the SAW films, it’s Stephen King and Frank Darabont, well written, well acted, well directed. TV… well, I miss ROME and DEADWOOD more than I can say, and can’t wait for THE WIRE. The new network shows have been a mixed bag. The second season of HEROES has been much weaker than the first, and anyway, the show has never been more than Wild Cards Lite (though I do like Hiro). PUSHING DAISIES has a certain wacky charm, though it’s very stylized, and may not be for everyone. JOURNEYMAN is redeemed mostly by the presence of Kevin McKidd, though I bet he wishes he was still playing Lucius Vorenus. I know I do. As for books, since I last updated WHAT I’M READING, I’ve enjoyed new novels from Bernard Cornwell, S.L. Farrell, Melinda M. Snodgrass, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Michael Chabon, and some old ones by Jack Vance (I reread the entire DEMON PRINCES series, and I’m doing the same with the four DYING EARTH books now). The Vance books were even better than I remembered them.

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Oh, Glorious Game

December 2, 2007 at 7:07 pm
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Life is magical and full of joy.

Two wonderful victories for my football teams today. The Jets dominated and demolished a sad, wounded, mistake-prone Dolphins teams, and sent them one step closer to a winless season, and the Giants came from behind in the last two minutes to eke out a nailbiter over the Bears in Chicago.

Pardon me. I must do my happy victory dance.

(But I’m still not convinced that Eli is the answer. He has flashes where he’s good, but just as many where he’s awful. Will the Hefty Lefty ever get a chance?)

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December 1, 2007 at 8:01 pm
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SFWA — the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, for those who don’t recognize the initials — is certainly no stranger to controversy. Ever since Damon Knight founded the organization back in the 60s, SFWA has shown a tendency to explode into war every few years. Maybe it has something to do with solar eclipses, or leap years, or the cycles of cicadas.

Some of the periodic wars have concerned important issues, from Vietnam to whether or not writers should be paid royalties; others have been fought over trivia, like Nebula rules and a proposal for an official SFWA tie. Most generate more heat than light. That’s certainly true of the latest, a huge firestorm that had broken out all over the blogosphere, centering on issues of e-piracy, copyright, “creative commons,” and SFWA’s response to same.

The difference is, where most of the past wars have been fought internally, in the pages of the old print SFWA FORUM, or the private areas of bulletin boards like GEnie and, this one is being fought in public, with the whole internet watching, thanks to the decision of a few of the participants to air the issues on their blogs instead of keeping them “in house.” I think that’s unfortunate, myself, but it’s a brave new world we live in.

One of the unfortunate side effects here, however, is that I see a lot of people slagging on SFWA as a result. The ones that disturb me most are the posts from young writers, an awful lot of which say something like, ‘well, I’m not a SFWA member, and now I’m glad,’ or ‘after all this, I’ve resolved never to join SFWA,’ calling the organization stupid or clueless or out of touch or… well, I don’t have to rehash it all here, the fight is being fought on a dozen different blogs right now. Read the posts, and weep.

The part that really makes me gnash my teeth is where I see young writers saying that they don’t see what they can get out of joining SFWA, so why bother?

Maybe it’s a generational thing, I don’t know… but as I see it, SFWA is not about what you can get out of it, and never has been. Damon Knight did not form the group to boost his career, way back when. Robert Silverberg, Jack Williamson, Poul Anderson, Gordon R. Dickson, Joe Haldeman, Jane Yolen, Roger Zelazny, and so many more did not give up time and energy they could have devoted to writing novels and short stories to serve as SFWA officers because they thought they’d benefit from the networking, or get higher advances, or win a Nebula. It was all about improving the field. Writers helping writers. Paying forward. Heinlein said it best. You cannot ever hope to pay back the people who helped you when you were starting out, so instead you pay forward, and try to lend a hand to the ones who come up after you.

To paraphrase JFK, one of the heroes of my own generation, ask not what SFWA can do for you, ask what you can do for SFWA.

SFWA is not a union. (I wish it was, and during my own terms in office I tried to move it in that direction, but it’s not). It’s not the WGA, never will be, never can be under current laws. But it’s the closest thing we have. It’s forty years of writers helping other writers as best they can. It’s the Grievance Committee and the Emergency Medical Fund and the Legal Defense Fund, it’s Writer Beware, it’s hospitality suites at cons, it’s model contracts and random audits, it’s the Nebula Awards (love ’em or hate ’em) and the Nebula anthologies and THE SCIENCE FICTION HALL OF FAME. It has done some incredible things during its tenure, and it has made some colossal fuggheaded blunders too. It can be amusing or infuriating. It’s a brotherhood — and a sisterhood — of professionals that has included Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Alfred Bester, Philip K. Dick, Ursula K. Le Guin, Andre Norton, Robert Silverberg, Jack Williamson, Clifford Simak, Fritz Leiber, Theodore Sturgeon, and more, and more, and more. That’s a club that I’m still very proud to belong to.

I have been a member since 1972. I have considered resigning half a dozen times, pissed off by one or another thing that SFWA has done or failed to do, but I never have, and I’m glad for that. In the late 70s I served two years as South Central regional director; in the early 80s I was a member of the Nebula Rules Committee (may god have mercy on my soul); in the late 90s I was vice-president for two terms; I organized and chaired a Nebula Banquet once. If I had never done any of that, I’d probably have gotten more writing done (or maybe not). I accomplished some good things during my time as a SFWA officer. I made some mistakes as well (one very bad one). It was never what could be called “fun,” but I did have the satisfaction afterward of saying I’d done my best for the field and my fellow writers… and looking back, I’m glad that I took my turn in the barrel.

And maybe that’s the point of this message. So if any of you reading this are young writers who have the professional credentials to join SFWA but haven’t… or aspiring writers who hope to have those credentials soon… and you’re reading all this crap in the blogosphere and wondering whether or not you should join… well, I say you should.

SFWA has flaws, SFWA has warts, SFWA makes mistakes from time to time… but in the end, the good it does far outweighs the bad, and you owe it to those who came before you and those who will come after to do your part, whatever that may be.

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9-Way Interview

December 1, 2007 at 12:10 pm
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A nine-way interview with the contributors to the new WILD CARDS mosaic, INSIDE STRAIGHT, is now up on Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist. Check it out at:

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