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Archive for February, 2012

Off to the Rainforest Writers Retreat

I’ve been looking forward to this long weekend for a very long time. Today I’ll drive over to the Olympic Peninsula with Brenda Cooper to meet up with 20+ other like minded individuals for 5(ish) days of writing amid the worlds only temperate rainforest. You can check it out here.

Last year I wrote over 30k words at this retreat. I’m hoping for a similar excursion this time.

Ya’ll have a good rest of the week.

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New tools for a new day

Well a couple of months ago, I had to replace the laptop where I’d written my first 4 novels on. It was sad day, but one that faces us all.

Tonight, I hit an even bigger landmark. I’ve used the same keyboard for 14 years of more. I honestly don’t remember owning a different keyboard, it’s been that long.

Right now, I’m typing this on the new Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000

Here’s a picture of one like my old one.

I’ve put off buying a new keyboard for a lot of reasons, but the main one was the arrow keys. If you looked at the ergo keyboards in recent years, they squished the home key section of the keyboard to being 2 keys wide, and three deep. This had the affect of moving the down key lower, squishing the right and left keys together. This TOTALLY sucks for gaming.

Back when I was an Everquest junkie, I played 20+ hours a week while having a family, day job and trying to write. I can’t imagine trying to game with the squished configuration. Tried it for one day and gave up. I just so hated it.

I gave up MMOs years ago in favor of putting more time into the writing career and I believe it’s paid off. At least so far, you know?

Anyway, I don’t game much anymore beyond little things on Shockwave from time to time, but not the brain crunching, time consuming commitment of games like EQ or WOW.

I used this keyboard so heavily that I’ve worn off several keys. The “C” key is totally blank, and the “N” and “M” are so vague that only an archeologist could decipher the meaning. Not something I was concerned about. I’ve been a touch typist since 9th grade. But when other people used my machine, they would comment on the missing letter indicators.

I’ve taken this keyboard apart on several occasions, key for key, cleaning it. I’ve even taken the insides out (large plastic mat) to cleanup the orange juice I spilled in it. I’ll miss this keyboard. I think it’s older than my daughter.

Alas and alack. Now I’m on to something newer, with more spring action in the keys and a slightly different tilt to the keyboard that is likely even more ergonomic than my original one.

Funny thing is, I’d still be using the other one if it hadn’t started giving me trouble. Every now and again it would just pause. Like the computer needed to resynch with it or something. It’s not a wireless, mind you. Direct plug in to the PC itself. All the keyboard lights would flash three times, then I could use it again. Happened several times a day lately.

I don’t write on this machine, at least not fiction. This is the machine I do most of my email, taxes, Facebook, etc. I leave my laptop as clean as possible so I’m not distracted when I write.

Who knows what I’ll replace next. Maybe my fifteen year old computer speakers or the seven year old ergo mouse pad. God knows what’s living in that thing.

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Crossing the demesne of dreams and fears.

Writing tonight. Had to take a little break as things were getting too intense. I get like this sometimes, just so buried in the words, in the story, that I get lost to the real world. I looked up and the sky was black and the room was cold. The day had slipped away into a void of story and creation.

What stopped me this last time was the end of my current music playlist. I was lost in the quiet for a while, confused, then found my way home once more.

I got up, stretched, walked around the house and got a drink. Then I came back here and tried to get going again. Only I couldn’t find the words. There was something missing. I needed the music to start again so I could cross that threshold back to my mythic world. It’s like an addiction, that place. Full of demons and angels, narwhals and unicorns. All of my secrets are buried there, my hopes and my dreams and especially my fears. There is a blackness there that takes my breath away, but it is part of the whole. I could no more give it up than I could give up love or breathing. And the soundtrack is the way back, the way inside.

So I flipped through my music, lost in in the silence. Nothing was making sense, then this song came to me. I needed this voice, these words.

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Last night was great, tonight will be mighty.

The SFWA event in Portland last night was stunning.  I’m still processing how great it went.

I showed up around 4pm to the Kennedy School McMenamins to find a bunch of folks already there writing.  I sat with them and cranked out a thousand words on the new novel and enjoyed the company.  Then we grabbed dinner.

At 7pm, we went over into the Gymnasium room which was set up for 80 people, theater style with a book seller in one corner and a bar in the back.  There were also 3-4 round tables back by the bar.

Mary Robinette Kowal opened the event with some SFWA related information than introduced me as the evening’s host.  I read from Forged in Fire which comes out in June.  That went really well.  I hadn’t realized just how emotionally powerful that opening chapter was until I read it in front of that crowd.

Then I introduced Ken Scholes who read two short pieces.  Ken was brilliant as always.  His stuff is visceral.  I highly recommend you look up his Psalms of Isaac series, or check out his stuff on tor.com

We then took a break so folks could refresh their “frothy adult beverages” as Mary said.  Then David Levine came on to read.

I’ve never heard David read before and let me tell you; the man has hidden talents.  His dialect work was excellent — really enhanced the story experience.  He’s a damn fine story teller.

We mingled a bit afterwards, but the place cleared out fairly quickly, being a work night and all.

Then I drove home, got in after midnight.  Was a long day.  Slept in a bit, and heading to day jobbe soon.

And tonight, we do it all over again.  Only this time in Kirkland with Me, David D. Levine and Nancy Kress.  It’s a powerful line-up.  You should come.

There will be great food and great stories.  Here’s the details below.  Hope to see some of you there.

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From Brenda Cooper – Reading coordinator…

I’m very pleased to be part of the team helping to put these literary events on.  The very first Seattle-area event will be Feb 1st, 2012.

The greater Pacific Northwest is home to a host of fabulous genre writers.  Last year, we heard from Ursula K. Le Guin, Kay Kenyon, …Jay Lake, Nancy Kress, Brent Weeks, Ted Chiang, Cherie Priest, Mark Henry, and Kat Richardson.  These free quarterly events provide the Northwest Science Fiction and Fantasy community a chance to gather, network and enjoy readings from local authors.

The 2012 series kicks off with John Pitts, author of Black Blade Blues, reading from his critically acclaimed series.  He’ll be joined by not one, but two Hugo-winning authors:  David Levine and Nancy Kress.

Register at the SFWA site for future mailings.  This is a quarterly event with new authors each time.

February 1st, 7pm.

Venue is the Wilde Rover pub in Kirkland

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Uruz

The wild ox; strength and power.

Ansuz

Creativity; words, music, and art.

Othala

The troll cross; wealth and prosperity.

Sowilo

The sun; energy, honor, guidance.

Fehu

Personally earned or lucky wealth and prosperity.

Jera

The harvest; patience and promise.

Raidho

The chariot; journey and travel.

Note: This is not the real book cover.