Thursday, July 28, 2005

Back in Town, Swimming in Short Fiction & Movies

I've been back from my Georgia/Arizona trip for a few days now, almost caught up with all the stuff I had to do before I left. I actually did get to work on a few stories while I was away and one of them is almost ready to send out. Looks like Gordon Van Gelder will get the first shot at it (whether he wants it or not).

Read a couple of books on vacation that I enjoyed pretty well – Robert McCammon's Boy's Life and Steve Hamilton's first mystery (and Edgar winner, I believe) A Cold Day in Paradise. I didn't read very many stories, but since I've been back I've read a couple of older ones – Harlan Ellison's "The Whimper of Whipped Dogs" (excellent) and "The River Styx Runs Upstream" by Dan Simmons, which just tore me apart.

Almost as good as the Simmons story was the Harlan Ellison introduction to the Simmons collection Prayers to Broken Stones. In it, Ellison describes a workshop experience that started out abysmally: he really ripped into an old man who apparently had little talent, but refused to stop writing. (The old guy had written something like 62 novels, all unpublished.) Then Ellison read a story by Simmons that turned everything around. It was an early version of "The River Styx" and Ellison was really moved by it. He declared Simmons a bona-fide writer on the spot and told him he would be blessed/cursed for the rest of his life as a bona-fide writer.

Two extremes at the same workshop. Sometimes I wonder which one I'm closer to.

Cut back on my cable channels and rejoined NetFlix. Ah...goodbye local video stores and your choking late fees, bad selection and unresponsive employees.

Now Playing = Beggars Banquet – Rolling Stones

Monday, July 11, 2005

Cooling Off in Arizona

Cindy and I are visiting my mom, my brother and his wife, their two dogs and two horses in Arizona. Yesterday was a nice toasty 112 degrees. Good for a nice jog. Cindy saw a sign advertising a local January.

We took my mom to church yesterday. You know you're in a retirement town when ALL of the church parking spaces are handicapped. But the people were friendly and the service was nice. One of the prayer requests in the bulletin read: "Please pray for the pastor's wives." Hmmmm....How many does the guy have?

Haven't really done much writing yet (Hey, I'm on vacation!), but I brought a few stories that need some attention. I'll probably do a little work today. My brother Bob has a great house that has a little patio on the roof. It's great for sunsets, or an evening drink, or just sitting around talking. I'd love to do some writing up there, but I probably wouldn't be able to do much after 6:00 AM or before 9:00 PM. (I still can't get used to this time. I've kept my watch set to Eastern time, confound it!)

Reading some stories from Cicada magazine, which are very good. My Clarion buddy Trent has had a story accepted there. I found a copy at a library sale and will probably go back and pick up the others I saw. Plus there's a used bookstore nearby....I'm there.

Reading Robert McCammon's Boy's Life which I'm enjoying about 80% of. I'm about 100 pages from the end and I'm hoping for a good ending. He's thrown a lot of ingredients in the soup; we'll see what comes out.

To all those at Clarion - hang it there, you're almost done.

Now Playing: Bob's Air Conditioner. Sweet music....