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23rd October 2016

4:44pm: Joy of Reading
From Fox in Socks to Keats, the words delight
And tangle tongues to joy, a farrago
Of syllables and sound like leaves that blow
To settle in great heaps, red, gold, and bright.
And reading is enchantment, as we grow
We sink into a story every night
Holding our breath in hopes all will come right
And enter in a place that's known, and know.
The magic of reading eludes the empirical
But there we are caring, the everyday miracle
That rises from pages, and words plain or lyrical
That make us partake of some people, a place
That never existed, in time or in space
But move us to laughter, to tears, to grace.

(Thanks to my Patrons at Patreon who generously sponsor me for what I'd be doing for free anyway because they are awesome like that.)

20th October 2016

7:39pm: Jardin Botanique, 15th October 2016
Her arms are to the sky
her feet are in the dust
she is draped in careless drops of gold
(some down already, swirl around her)
the rain is coming
and wind is coming
and night is coming
and winter is coming
she is reaching
gold leaves against deepening blue
a tracery of branches, reaching,
the huge harvest moon
low in the sky
catches a moment,
hangs heavy in her net
through sudden burn of tears.

(Supported by my wonderful Patrons at Patreon.)

12th October 2016

3:15pm: "Cold, impossible, ahead"
How did we wind up here?
How when we left
so hopeful from the trailhead down below,
with all our sights set high
intending well
when all the peaks were shining up ahead?

But yet each turn
which each seemed at the time the best to take
and each false start, best guess, and compromise,
led winding through a trackless mire to this
this moment quaking on this precipice
with everything uncertain.

Far below
too tiny to make out
our starting point
and beckoning above
the peaks we longed to scale,
still lovely, still a dream, still out of reach.

So here we are at last
alone and cold
and after all this waste of youth and time
and this is all we have,
this moment, now,
bowed down beneath a solitary sky.

But calling this the end is to despair,
and to embrace defeat and bitterness.
No, this is where we start from,
here and now,
bogged down in this morass
and on this edge.

We can go on, and must,
sideways and up
on, step by step,
tired out, bearing our loads,
and trudging on our long and weary way
as slowly up and slowly on we go.

(The title is from Auden's "Now the leaves are falling fast". Sponsored by my wonderful patrons at Patreon. This poem, in addition to being written by me, is written by a character in a novel I thought of this morning and may one day write called Bright Moment)

9th October 2016

9:34am: Because you need your sleep... A very short love poem
I'll draw the curtains tight across so Dawn
Creeping across the sky, some hours from now,
Won't peep her rosy fingers through a crack
To see you sprawled out sleeping softly there
And fall in love with you, and wake you up.

5th October 2016

9:45pm: Death Just Sucks
There is no way to win, no best to make,
No comfort shining in the midst of loss
No matter what we dot or what we cross
Or short term realise, we lose our stake.
There's nothing fair, there is no even break,
We diet, exercise, we even floss,
We love our lives and live, but death will toss
To win it all again, and take and take.
So all of us inevitably die,
I hate it, but it keeps on being true.
We can't make bets or bargains, or know why.
Death comes to us, and die we must, and do.
Let's face it, there will come a day that I
Go down into that darkness. Also you.

27th September 2016

2:01pm: Thud: Poor Relations
Words: 1035
Total words: 84490
Files: 4
Tea: Jin Die with ginseng
Music: Startup music, then nothing
Reason for stopping: end of bit

This is the beginning of the last chapter. It will be a long chapter, probably 10,000 words, and there is a lot to go in it. I haven't been able to work on it for ages either because I have been too busy or because it was too hot when I was home. But here we go, moving again, and I should be able to jog on to the end now.

14th September 2016

3:54am: Come Get Me, Fairies
Come get me, fairies, come and get me soon
And take me off with you, I want to go
To magic lands beyond the fields we know
The land of hope, to fairyland, Annwn,

There's nothing here that's worth my love and life
My friends make fun of me, they have since school
"You still believe in fairies? How uncool!"
Just pettiness and boredom, pain and strife.

But just like Puddleglum, I will believe
Lions and suns are better, I want more
Than broken dreams and hearts, I want to leave.

My house is green, the windows, walls and door,
This world is cold and hollow, and I grieve.
Come get me fairies, like you did before.

(Another possible explanation of the green house in Narberth. Both these poems sponsored by my excellent patrons at Patreon.)

13th September 2016

3:55pm: The Debunking Website of the Person Who Lives in a Green House in Narbeth
It's all a hoax, it's lies and fairytales
The photos are all faked, as you can tell
If you look close at shadows, and as well
Depopulation never struck across all Wales.

I live in Narbeth, and my house is green!
The only one there is, because I know
They're lying to us dupes, and all they show
Is faked up nonsense -- there's no fairy queen.

Come on, wise up, it never happened, hey?
I know they tell you bad things will befall
But I'm still here, to prove the truth I say.

There was no magic horse, no year-long ball,
No empty land, no mice, no secret way --
They never went to fairyland at all!

So the background to this is the Mabinogion story of Manawydan the son of Llyr, in which the heroes sit on a hill in Narbeth and everyone else in Wales disappears to fairyland, and (I'm leaving things out) the four of them have various adventures getting them back, which all concludes with an agreement that the fairies will never do it again as long as people don't paint their houses green -- and by and large, in West Wales, people don't. But I was in Narbeth today, and there's this one green house, and I was wondering about who lived there, and I realised it must be a fairy denialist.

31st August 2016

10:08am: Watching the Dance
Over the wormhole, see them play
Thistledown ships that drift away
Take your places, whirl and dart,
Kiss and touch and then depart.

Shipping out on the early runs
To distant worlds round distant suns
Skipping, skimming, out and in,
With matchless verve let the dance begin!

Dancing ships at the wormhole's bight
Light as leaf and fast as light
One instant poised, then gone so far
To the very edge of where humans are.

Catching their moment, never late,
While we, on station, staidly wait,
Timing the frolic, keeping neat,
Scheduling every ship, each beat.

Salute your partners! Flick and fly!
We count you off as you pass us by,
Appointing your motions, fast and slow,
Under changeless stars, as we watch you go.

(Thanks to my awesome patrons on Patreon.)

28th August 2016

9:30pm: Nonsense Poem 3
When you rhyme "handkerchief" with "mantlepiece"
It's just a way of showing that you know
Not rhyme but scansion, that you have the lease
On how words fit to rhythms, fast and slow,

And that responsible can never rhyme
Though bee's lip sips apocalypse for free
And June moon dune's due soon -- ah, all the time,
Since Odin first drew words down from the tree.

But I dream of a time when I know what to say
Sensing a feeling I want to get right
To what neat ends we lend ourselves this way
And poetry's simpler than sleeping tonight.

Words leap like dolphins, phosphorescent flash,
And sink back to the dark without a splash.

(It's a good thing I have a whimsy section on my poetry page, that's all I'm saying. I got out of the bath to write this down! Brought to you by my long suffering Patrons on Patreon.)

27th August 2016

1:03pm: Reeds
The reeds beside the water whisper still
Old secrets long entrusted, Midas's ears
And Caesar's wife, the wind that hears
Bears sussurus away and always will.

Tall reeds that bend, that fall before a knife,
What secrets do you know and still keep well?
Your whispering heads are bent and will not tell
What you could say that still might touch on life.

Oh reeds, in green, and brown, and summer gold,
New secrets learn from me, new words to rhyme,
Whisper to winds the tales thus far untold
By reeds or people, rocketships that climb
And long-lived lives, and answers that unfold,
Among the hopes and dreams of future time.

(This one wasn't going to be a sonnet, and then it was. You know, some people are very interested in the difference between science fiction and fantasy. I am too.)

Brought to you by my excellent Patrons at Patreon, and so was yesterday's even if I forgot to say so.

26th August 2016

2:10pm: How Do I Know You?
(A love sonnet from the universe of Poor Relations)

How do I know you, in these shifting days
When fashions pass like clouds across your face
When you look different in the myriad ways,
That you have chosen to enhance your grace?

From day to day you choose what you present,
And choose again, and change and shift and grow
But what you choose is simply accident,
I see essential you, and always know.

I know you through all protocols you change
Your face, your hair, your gender, and your skin,
Because your central self retains your smile,
Your changing details reinforce your range,
Though aliens attack and war begin,
I know and recognize you all the while.

8th August 2016

12:21pm: My Worldcon Schedule
Kansas City's Favorite Son: Robert A Heinlein
Wednesday 14:00 - 15:00, 2204 (Kansas City Convention Center)
Let's take a look at the life (and career) of Robert A. Heinlein, Kansas City's favorite science fiction author. He grew up in Kansas City, and that history had an impact on his writing. Are some well-known characters, such as Lazarus Long and Maureen Johnson Smith, more autobiographical than others?
Bradford Lyau (M), Jo Walton

Look, a Heinlein panel. With me on it!

Wednesday 16:00 - 17:00, 2211 (KKs) (Kansas City Convention Center)
Jo Walton, Mike Resnick

Mars Needs Poets
Thursday 11:00 - 12:00, 2205 (Kansas City Convention Center)
Let's talk science fiction and fantasy poetry! Where can you find it? Who's writing it? What pieces do we love? And how is science fiction changing the landscape of modern poetry?
Jim Davidson (M), Mary Soon Lee, Rose Lemberg, Frederick Turner, Dr. Mary A. Turzillo Ph.D., Jo Walton

Is modern poetry paying any attention to us? News to me if so.

SF as Protest Literature
Thursday 16:00 - 17:00, 2502A (Kansas City Convention Center)
Science fiction has a history of political and sociological undertones. The genre is the starting point for dystopian fiction, among other forms of politically engaged fiction. How has SF become the literature of protest? What are examples of historical SF protest books and who is currently writing SF literature that protests (religion, gender inequality, gender identity, technology, politics, capitalism, etc.)?
Bradford Lyau, Mark Oshiro, Jo Walton, Alex Jablokow (M), Ann Leckie

This should be fun.

Reading: Jo Walton
Thursday 19:00 - 20:00, 2203 (Readings) (Kansas City Convention Center)
Jo Walton

I will be reading from Poor Relations. Also, as they've given me an hour, I will read some poetry, and take requests.

History of the Book
Friday 12:00 - 13:00, 2206 (Kansas City Convention Center)
From Cuneiform tablets to papyrus and parchment to paper, from the scroll to the codex to the hand-written and hand-bound book, to the Gutenberg Press and the e-book. Let us take a journey through time and technology.
Ada Palmer (M), Jo Walton, Lauren Schiller

You should see Ada's collection of original books suitable to hand around the room -- and if you come, you can!

Short Fiction of the 1980s
Friday 14:00 - 15:00, 2210 (Kansas City Convention Center)
Our panel discuss some of the short fiction of the 1980s, and its influence on their writing or editing. What authors rose to prominence, and how did they affect the genre? What responses did these provoke in our panel, and how did they work with, and against some of the prevailing science fiction ideas of the time?
Gordon Van Gelder (M), Michael Swanwick, John Kessel, Ellen Datlow, Jo Walton

I guess I'm on this as the consumer where the others are the producers. Well, that's all right by me.

Nifty Narrative Tricks
Friday 16:00 - 17:00, 2502A (Kansas City Convention Center)
Authors share some of their tricks for drawing the reader in, imparting knowledge, and making sure they write a compelling and engaging story.
James Patrick Kelly, Mary Robinette Kowal, Jo Walton, Elizabeth Bear (M), Steven Gould

This topic is usually great

Prometheus Awards
Saturday 14:00 - 15:00, 2205 (Kansas City Convention Center)
Awards given annually by the Libertarian Futurist Society.
Fran Van Cleave (M), Jo Walton

Autographing: Jeanette Epps, Sheila Finch, Mary Robinette Kowal, Stan Love, Bogi Takács, Jo Walton
Saturday 16:00 - 17:00, Autographing Space (Kansas City Convention Center)
Jeanette Epps, Stan Love, Sheila Finch, Mary Robinette Kowal, Bogi Takács, Jo Walton

Come and get your books signed
10:13am: There are no lasting victories, for time
Goes on and builds each course on time before
Best case, advancement comes with each new floor
All gains get covered up as on we climb.

And Entropy is real and full of power
Our hard-won victories can slip away
Subside back to the unforgiving clay
Where once we raised the stories of our tower.

Through fire and destruction, bombs and ill
Through loss and pain and ruin and regret
Build on as best we can, each brick we set,
Each little victory that time will kill.

And winning now can count, despite war, sack,
Although Rome fell we got the muses back.

2nd August 2016

6:46pm: Thud: Poor Relations
Words: 4581
Total words: 82211
Files: 5
Music: No music
Tea: Jin Die with ginseng
Reason for stopping: Finished chapter, time for a break

I also reworked the stuff I wrote yesterday. So that's chapter 11 done, only chapter 12 and an alien epilogue to go.

Next time I have the chance to have another day like this, I should finish the book, though it will also need a solid day or two of fiddling once I have a through draft. But I'm close.

May get some more done in the morning, but I am heading off for GenCon tomorrow afternoon.
7:38am: Thud: Poor Relations
Words: 1993
Total words: 77630
Files: 5
Music: no music
Tea: Blue people ginseng oolong, and then white orchard
Reason for stopping: doing things with people

This was yesterday, just under 2000 words of chapter 11, still needing reworking which I plan to do right now.

If you read: "They didn't look anything like aliens in a higa hololoid, why, they didn't even have tentacles!" would the two made up words of "higa hololoid" be relatively transparent to you?

1st August 2016

1:28pm: The Just City free e-book giveway on Tor.com
The Just City is being given away free as an e-book for the next week (1st to 7th) on Tor.com, because it is their book club book for August. There will also be some book club stuff about it going on all month, including three new posts by me about the inspiration for the series.

Details here.

25th July 2016

7:18pm: Thud: Poor Relations
Words: 3180
Total words: 75638
Files: 6
Music: No music
Tea: White Orchard
Reason for stopping: too hot

As soon as the temperature drops I am writing, but it is very hot right now, so I'm not getting much done.

I have written one alien bit, expanded the last bit, and gone through and put in mentions of the system of government.

An interesting thing I thought when I was doing the latter -- you could read any number of mainstream books and you wouldn't learn much about how the system of government works.

There's A Suitable Boy and Phineas Finn and House of Cards and any number of political thrillers, but really in most mainstream books if you didn't already know you couldn't work it out. You might find out there's a president and senators, or a prime minister and MPs, but you equally well might not, and even if you did you wouldn't know who elected them or how elections worked. SF is usually better about it.

Also, the Poor Relations synopsis: Some newcomers come to a small village and cause social ripples. And then there's an alien invasion.

But I realised after I posted that on Twitter that it gives an inaccurate impression that it's a historical small village, not a small village on Mars.

Two chapters and 2 alien bits to go, and I've been working all day and feel like I'm still in the same place.
11:51am: The news
When news comes pounding in from far and wide
Bombarding us with rapid tragedy
So violence and death is all we see
And hammered home to us from every side

Some thrive on indignation, even rage
Though nothing's changed by anger, tears, or sighs,
Or clenching up, besieged, and closing eyes
Or claiming now's the worst of any age.

But other things are real and happen too
There's still more good than bad, more love than greed,
Much less reported, but remaining true.

Please don't despair, look round, and help with need,
There's science, art, and good work still to do,
Act where you can, reach out, and plant a seed.

20th July 2016

5:09pm: Thud: Poor Relations
Words: 1870 (before it got too hot to work)
Total words: 71458
Files: 6
Tea: Pu Erh and ginseng, again, iced, again
Music: No music
Reason for stopping: got too hot to work

Even if it's only a little bit, it's progress, and I crossed the 70k mark, so worth recording I guess.

Twitter seems to think there isn't a consensus term for the cloth squares people do embroidery on. Is "embroidery squares" a recognisable term? I want to have somebody talk about the stuff she uses for this hobby "My silks, my needles, my embroidery squares..." does that work to convey a sense of what I'm talking about?

(I spent a while trying to figure out if the fabric comes from Earth (the silk does) or if they're manufacturing it on Mars. It depends totally on the percentage of upper class girls who choose this hobby. I think probably it comes from Earth, but it totally doesn't matter.)

Also in this chapter, we finally see the Weintraubs' famous citron tree, which I've been thinking about for months now.

If I could have even four nice cool days like yesterday I could finish this book before I go away again. The weather does not seem like it's likely to cooperate. I am considering the possibility of working in the library, but my keyboard is loud, I'd have to sit quietly and not talk to myself, the chairs wouldn't be good for my back, and I'd have to disconnect and reconnect everything multiple times. But it might be worth it anyway.

I think this chapter's pretty much done, which means only two more chapters and three more alien bits to the end!

19th July 2016

5:17pm: Thud: Poor Relations
Words: 4107
Total words: 69588
Files: 5
Tea: Pu Erh with ginseng (iced again, though it's not too hot to think today like yesterday)
Music: No music
Reason for stopping: hungry, and need to think about the next bit

I'm almost at seventy thousand words, I could smell my way to the end of the book from here!

So these people live on Mars and call themselves Martians. And they've read War of the Worlds, of course they have, they have an ironic statue of a tripod by their shuttleport. And... now there's an alien invasion, and suddenly they wish they hadn't read War of the Worlds because it's making them really uncomfortable. I find this probably funnier than I should, but never mind. Also they have science fiction. They have really great AI, but it's not conscious, and they have science fiction about it becoming conscious and rebelling.

I can't think of another story about an alien invasion of Mars, though I expect there are some. Anyone?

It's a strange kind of book but -- do I always say that about my books? I do. But am I always correct? I believe I am.

Gosh I love writing.

18th July 2016

9:15am: Thessaly Audiobooks
All three Thessaly books are now available as audiobooks from Audible, narrated by Noah Michael Levine:

The Just City: Thessaly, Book 1

The Philosopher Kings: Thessaly, Book 2

Necessity: Thessaly, Book 3

And I have some free download codes for them -- comment if you'd like one, and say which book you want. Once they're gone they're gone, and when they're gone I'll say so here so you will know!

August 29th The Just City is all gone, but I still have a couple each for the other two.

17th July 2016

3:00pm: Thud: Poor Relations
Words: 2006
Total words: 65355
Files: 6
Tea: Pu Erh (with ice, it's really hot here)
Music: Power up music and then nothing
Reason for stopping: Not really stopping

Finished chapter 9, at at 65 kwords that means I'm about two-thirds of the way through this book. So I stopped and worked out everything that has to happen in the last third, kind of in order, so I can write it. I was sort of a bit stuck on which of two fun options to go with next, and I decided that since this is in omni I can embrace the power of and. That's what multiple POVs are for. And then I wrote a tiny bit out of order (which I'm not counting) and now I will write chapter 10, all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.

Yesterday I read back through and revised the middle section. I like the alien POV so much.

It's so odd having Necessity come out and being in the middle of this, because it's such a different book it feels weird. I read the beginning of this at Readercon and everyone loved it.

16th July 2016

1:13pm: The Ice Remembers
The ice remembers tearing down the hills
and being clouds and seas and becks and rills
remembers grey cool dawns, and branching out,
and avalanches falling on a shout,
in ages when cold water turned to time
and ground the world and conquered every clime
and made the sea fall back and mountains shrink.
The cubes of ice that tinkle in your drink,
remember moments rising up as steam
and crystalising, and as ice may dream
holds tight the memory on each cold day
of six cold winters that it needs to stay.

(This is another poem inspired by an Elise necklace, which you can see at the link. Sponsored by my awesome patrons at Patreon.)

15th July 2016

12:18pm: Home from New York on the Adirondack Haikus
North by the Hudson
Eagle, heron, cormorant:
Nature by Amtrak.

Last time I came South
A mist of tiny new leaves.
Now, layered lush greens.

It's summer! Well, it's --
No, it's July. It's summer.
Time keeps on moving.

Under the chestnuts
A red deer crosses the stream
Reflections ripple.

Grey rocks flash past fast
Then we stop in a cutting
And see each flake clear.

Over the water
Slow flap, glide, by the reed bed
So many herons!

Waterlily choked
Or silver under the sky
Lake Champlain is long.

Wherever I go
The sky is always with me
The same, but changing.
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