Writing is by nature a solitary activity; and writing in a language that’s not your own in a country where it’s barely spoken is pretty much as solitary as it gets. Living in Paris, writing in English, I knew I wasn’t going to have a face-to-face workshop (no critical mass), and I speedily turned online, to big places like Hatrack, Critters and OWW. The trouble is that people outgrow them, move on, and that after a year or so your crit partners might have radically changed (assuming you ever had them in the first place). I was lucky to find some awesome people there (rcloenen-ruiz, to mention only one), but they never had the tightness and cohesiveness I was looking for.
Then I got an invitation from writing buddy T.L. Morganfield to join Written in Blood, a new group with the avowed aim to keep its members together and committed through thick and thin. Three years later, we’re still here, still going strong. We have critted a dozen novels and a host of short stories. Members have had pro sales, been nominated for awards, published novels–and even, in founder Dario’s case, started up a small press, Panverse Publishing. We figured it was time to celebrate our achievements, and to do what writers do, which is put some of our fiction out there. Accordingly, here is our first anthology, Eight Against Reality:
Stories run the gamut from humorous SF to mythical fantasy. Some have been published in pro and semi-pro markets; some are all-new, but they’re all fantastic.
If you like the excerpts below, you can order a copy here. Or… you can win one.
Dario very kindly provided us with two contributors’ copies, and, like fellow WIB Janice Hardy, I’m throwing it into the pot. Leave a comment here, at my website or on LJ (anything that’s clearly not spam will do, like “I want a copy” ), and you can get a copy (signed and personalised if you feel like it). The offer is good wherever you live in the world; you have a week from now (until the 6th of July). [*]
Afterwards, I’ll put together my best impersonation of a pseudo-random algorithm and pick a name out of the metaphorical hat.
And here are the shiny excerpts:
Read More »
Because I promised pics:
Yesterday, the BF and I tied the knot at the Town Hall of the 15eme Arrondissement in Paris. Well, sort of. France is a bit centralised when it comes to wedding: you have to get married at the Town Hall before you can get married in church. The big ceremony and banquet and so on is in August at the church wedding, but this was the bit where we got married for the Republic
I’ve been a member of SFnovelists for a while, but I was mostly lurking. Now I have decided to de-lurk, with my very first blog post on translation, language and cultures. You can find it here (and I’ll be posting monthly from now on).
It’s not every day that I find a very long and loving blog post dissecting a short story I’ve written (in this case, “Memories in Bronze, Feathers and Blood”, my latest at BCS), and calling it the best of 2010 so far…
I need a liedown, but the universe being what it is, I will go and look for supplies instead.
So, I did promise the recipe for the scones…
Below are my VD scones (though I didn’t put enough baking soda in, and ended up making oversized cookies. They are supposed to look a bit better than this normally):
- 230 g flour
- 11 g baking soda
- 60g butter
- 1 teaspoon caster sugar
- 145 mL of milk
- 1 tablespoon Orange Blossom water
- 120g chocolate, chopped into coarse bits
- Zest of half an orange, chopped into tiny bits
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven at 200°C. Leave the butter out to soften a bit.
- Sift the flour, the sugar and the baking soda in a bowl, and gently rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the milk little by little, until you have a spongy dough.
- Work in the orange blossom water, the orange zest and the chocolate chips until the dough is smooth and uniform.
- Grease a baking sheet. Divide the dough into 8-9 parts and shape it like cylinders (roughly 5cm across, 1cm thick). Or, if it’s too much trouble, just put dollops of the dough onto the baking sheet
- Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until the scones are risen and light golden in colour.
(I originally was looking for a chocolate and orange scone recipe after eating very tasty ones in Montreal, but couldn’t find one that worked on the net. In the end, I adapted this from the plain oven scones recipe contained in Scottish Teatime Recipes by Johanna Mathie)
So, I am back from Villa Diodati 6. No volcanoes were spotted during the making of this workshop, which was all to the good. (Stephen Gaskell and I did have a bit of a communication problem because my phone insisted on sending text messages to his phone in binary, but that was sorted out really fast–I stopped sending texts and used the good old-fashioned voice method).
We did the usual crit mornings, the afternoon sessions being devoted to writing questions for Saturday, and a buck-your-habits workshop for Sunday (the goal of the latter being to write an exercise completely at odds with the rest of your writing. If you really want to know what I had to do–I was supposed to write from the point of view of a white angry male. I failed.)
Also, there was gorgeous food: chicken enchiladas, spaghetti bolognese, curry, orange-and-chocolate scones, and Mexican brunch. Mmmm. I always eat too much at those things. I’ll post the recipe for the scones later on (gotta save stuff for another post )
Didn’t write much, though I did solve one important plot point for book 3, and discussed a variety of marketing tactics. Also watched way too much soccer (the Brazil-Ivory Coast match was priceless. Only game I’ve seen where it looked like there would be a riot on the pitch). Soccer isn’t really a sport I enjoy, for a variety of reasons–the first and foremost being that I don’t like the rules (the “no touching another player” combined with the lack of video replay means it encourages players to simulate wounds and damage, which is a disgrace).
Came home refreshed, though that feeling lasted about 1 hour–the time it took me to get my luggage back and exit the airport. Ah, France…
Our crit circle, complete with baby
More pictures here.
My Aztec steampunk short “Memories in Bronze, Feathers and Blood” is now up at Beneath Ceaseless Skies.
This is what we remember: the stillness before the battle, the Jaguar Knights crouching in the mud of the marshes, their steel rifles glinting in the sunlight. And the gunshot—and Atl, falling with his eyes wide open, as if finally awakening from a dream…
Read the rest here.
It will also be podcast in a later issue, if you prefer your Aztecs to come in audio rather than in text :=p
Any comments/discussion on the story can be left here or at the Beneath Ceaseless Skies forums.
Not much to report here, apart from the occasional bout of cooking (Cantonese rice, Vietnamese fashion, courtesy of my grandma; and some sliced marinated beef that went great with the experimental tomato rice).
Research for book 3 continues apace; I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that I need to hit the American Library in Paris and their JSTOR subscription for the info I need. If all goes well, I shall be near Schleswig (in Germany, up near the Danish border) from Friday to Monday, in order to attend the Villa Diodati workshop (aka the retread of the one that lost against the Icelandic volcano). Cross your fingers for me.
Very literally, in this case….
My Aztec steampunk weird alt-hist “Age of Miracles, Age of Wonders” has sold to Interzone (with mechanical creepy man, imprisoned god, blood magic, and a mining town in the Old West). Many thanks to the VD6 crew, Nancy Fulda, Stephen Gaskell, Sara Genge and Ralan Conley, for the crits that helped me fix the ending of this.
And I would also seem to have sold my Aztecs-in-space SF story “Shipbirth”, part of the Xuya continuity, to Asimov’s (do you detect a trend in story themes? :=) ). Many thanks to everyone who took a look at it on OWW: Allison Starkweather, Cécile Cristofari, Terra LeMay, L.K. Pinaire, Christine Lucas, and Ilan Lerman. And an extra dose of thanks to Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, who read it in record time and helped me fix a very important plot point.
I will be going for a liedown and more novel brainstorming.
As the radio silence might indicate, I’ve been fairly busy, though most of it wasn’t writing. Had a fun and busy weekend with friends and family, saw Neil Williamson on his way through Paris, tried an Asian recipe (cha siu, which turned out awesome and which I heartily recommend. There will be pics next time, I swear), and worked my way through more Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries.
And now it’s back to the grind–aka researching the next Obsidian and Blood novel. I’ve already got a fairly good idea of what it’s about, but now I need a detailed outline and a plot that (hopefully) makes sense. Got a pile of books on the sofa, a full teapot, and my trusty notebook…