February 21st, 2008


[links] Link salad for a fly day

A new review of my story "The Soul Bottles"

Strange Creatures Found in Antarctic Waters

The Bielefeld Conspiracy — A non-existent German town which is in fact not non-existent. (Thanks to the_flea_king.)

Big Bang Wasn't the Beginning

Rearranging Stars to Communicate with Aliens — And I thought dam building was Big Science...

Satellite shootdown successful — Sighted sat, sank same. Now what did we prove?

Time in saddle: 0 minutes — Vigorous 20 minute walk at the airport instead
Last night's weigh-out: 277.4
This morning's weigh-in: 274.4
Not with me at the airport Currently reading: The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image, by Leonard Shlain Powell's | Amazon ]

[travel] Heading for South Carolina

I'm about to board a plane for my connecting flight to DFW, from there to Charleston, SC. I'll be in Columbia, SC tonight through Monday morning for the South Carolina Book Festival. As usual, blogging may be irregular.

Don't forget the ARC contest, complete with limericks and haikus. Even if you don't want to enter, go check out some of the gems in the comment thread. They're worth your trouble.

See some, all or none of you on the other side.

[food] Mmm...brisket

Mmm. South Carolina. Which has apparently borrowed Portland's weather.

I'm here, safe and sound. Had expected to meet up with the jeffvandermeers tonight, but they are running rather late. On the other hand, I'm three hours out of my native time zone, so what do I care? Got jet lag?

I passed a likely looking bbq restaurant on my way in to the hotel, so after checking in to both my room and the festival, I betook my rental car (courtesy of the Hertz random upgrade program, a spanking new Mercury Mariner) back to Maurice's BBQ, specifically the Lexington location.

The place is very blue collar. Not that faux blue collar that's popular in the post-fern bar world of semihip restaurants, but the real thing. The interior is a monument to Southern culture, right down to the church basement furniture and the extensive display of Civil War posters, commemoratives and letters. I have a number of relatives who died in the War of Northern Aggression (did you know I am a sixth generation Texan?) so I think I'm on safe ground to observe that celebrating your ancestors' crushing defeat in an unjust war a century and a half ago is a heck of a basis for a regional culture.

However, this same regional culture produces awesome brisket. This being South Carolina, it was lathered with mustard-based bbq sauce, which I am ok with. With some Texas style vinegar-based sauce the brisket would have been heavenly. Decent hush puppies and mediocre fries came with, along with good cole slaw. I'm going to see if I can drag the jeffvandermeers out there some time this weekend. Among other things, the fresh made onion rings appeal.

Maybe I'll take my camera that time.

[writing] Progriss riport on my descent into Madness

Finished the very tight line edit of Madness of Flowers on the plane today. I managed to carve the manuscript down by 32,700 words, to 161,900. I need to cut another 17,000 to meet my hard upper limit of 145,000 with Night Shade. Given the very tightly interwoven structure of the book, that's going to be an interesting trick.

So far I am very pleased. I'm also keeping to my production schedule, which is even better news. Now, to deal with some lingering short fiction before I jump back into deep edit mode.

[process] How long is a short story, anyway

My brother asked me in an email today about story lengths. I told him that in speculative fiction, 4,000 words is the "sweet spot" for short fiction, and anything much above 20,000 words is virtually unsellable.

I also sent him this handy reference table:

Flash<500 words

Short-short<1000 words

Short<7,500 words

Novelette<17,500 words

Novella<40,000 words

Short novel<80,000 words

Novel<200,000 words

Doorstop<400,000 words

Wall-eyed insanity>400,000 words

Feel free to offer corrections or comments. Y'all are usually so shy about that sort of thing.