Bluejo's Journal

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26th May 2015

2:50pm: Aurora Award Nomination
I'm delighted to announce that My Real Children has been nominated for an Aurora Award. This is an award for Canadian SF and Fantasy. And look at the stellar shortlist for Best Novel in English:

Echopraxia by Peter Watts, Tor Books
The Future Falls by Tanya Huff, DAW Books
My Real Children by Jo Walton, Tor Books
The Peripheral by William Gibson, Penguin Canada
A Play of Shadow by Julie E. Czerneda, DAW Books

That's a list it's an honour to be included on. I feel so proud to be Canadian!

(Posted from the train... Balticon was great, but never a free moment, you know how it goes when you're having fun.)

21st May 2015

10:33am: In Balticon!
Well, Balticon hasn't started yet, but I am here anyway. I took the train all the way down yesterday -- it's possible in one rather long day, but by the time the train got into Baltimore at 00.38 last night I was frid. Jon Singer was a hero of the revolution and was waiting to bring me out to the hotel. I did this yesterday rather than today so that I could have today to recover -- a night's sleep, tea and breakfast have helped.

This afternoon I'm going to the aquarium with rivka and family, and I'm sure that will help even more, and then people are arriving this evening and the con proper starts tomorrow.

I still don't have an absolutely final schedule, but I will be around, and I will be on stuff and doing stuff and around, so if you are here come and say hello!

19th May 2015

9:31am: My Real Children out in US paperback
Ideal for summer reading and lightweight gifts!

I haven't seen the paperback myself yet -- though I expect I will this weekend at Balticon -- but it has the same cover as the hardback.

18th May 2015

12:30pm: Necessity Revision: Question
For those of you who have read both The Just City and The Philosopher Kings, what things do you expect to see addressed and resolved in Necessity?

I'm sorry, there's no point answering this if you haven't read PK, and I know most people haven't, but it will be out in a little over a month.

Comments will likely have spoilers for PK which you may well not want if you haven't read it yet.

16th May 2015

10:47pm: Thud: Necessity: Done
Words: 2140
Total words: 85584
Files: 5
Tea: Elderflower and Lemon
Music: No music
Reason for stopping: well past bed time, and done

Through draft.

Needs a lot of fixing, so not asking for volunteer readers yet, it's not in a fit state.

But done, nevertheless.
4:28pm: Thud: Necessity
WordsL 2711
Total words: 83182
Files: 6
Tea: White Orchard, before that Jing Die
Music: No music, still, but there's a very noisy bird outside
Reason for stopping: end of chapter and time to make dinner

So at the beginning of this chapter, I got obsessed with deciding what Jathery was wearing. Jathery is an alien god. I spent ages looking at art and deciding exactly what gla had on, and then I realised that to Marsi it was going to look like "a pale skinned human with fussed up hair draped in green and black layers of cloth" and she wasn't even going to notice it was cross dressing because she totally isn't used to clothing being gendered. And I was a little bit annoyed, because it had seemed important, and then as I was fussing about it I realised that Jathery would still be wearing the same stuff in the next chapter, and Apollo would totally recognise it and be able to snark about it -- "Everyone else was dressed from School of Athens, but Jathery had picked the right painter but the wrong painting, and come with a Renaissance woman's elaborate coiffure and a Renaissance man's outfit in pale green and black, with huge sleeves, on a female-seeming body." And then I realised an interesting plot thing, which my subconcsious, or the muses, had clearly been setting up for me all book, and I had to go back and change maybe two lines and it was all perfectly set up. So that was nice. As I said on Twitter, people who outline know what they're doing more of the time, but I do get to have nice surprises when things come together unexpectedly.

And then I wrote this chapter.

Onwards and upwards, nearly done.

15th May 2015

10:14pm: Thud: Necessity
Words: 3103
Total words: 80430
Files: 5
Tea: Elderflower and lemon, before that Hui Ming
Music: No music
Reason for stopping: end of chapter, and bed time

That was a difficult chapter, I've been working on it all day. I think it's there now.

There was one point where I was thinking "Well, only five people in the room this time, and they're all human. Well, except the alien." They're all mortals.

Only two more chapters unless I do that thing, in which case, four more. Maybe I'll get it done before I leave for Balticon. We'll see.

14th May 2015

4:38pm: Thud: Necessity
Words: 2403
Total words: 77384
Files: 5
Tea: White tea with apricot and elderflower, before that pu erh
Music: no music
Reason for stopping: end of chapter

Crocus chapter, and therefore easy and fun. Contains a FAQ. This is the last Crocus chapter. Unless I do decide to go back and write the whole book Crocus POV..

This chapter is set in the future of the rest of the book. Most of the Crocus chapters were set in the past, and the last one caught up and was in the present, and this one is in the future.

(I am just remembering the person who allegedly said their book wasn't SF because SF is all written in the future tense. Heh.)

13th May 2015

9:04pm: Thud: Necessity
Words: 2464
Total words: 74979
Files: 5
Tea: Elderflower and Lemon, before that Hui Ming
Music: no music
Reason for stopping: end of chapter and bedtime

Been writing this all day -- I lost a couple of days to Boreal and a couple to pain, but it's going again now.

This is a very peculiar book.

8th May 2015

9:06pm: Thud: Necessity
Words: 3202
Total words: 72086
Files: 5
Tea: Blue people, iced, and then elderflower and lemon
Music: no music
Reason for stopping: end of chapter, also nearly bedtime

Been writing this all day, at first it didn't want to be written and then it really did.

This book is going to take a lot of fixing when it's done. But it's getting done, and that's a good thing. If yesterday was "Lucretius did it", today is "Cherryh did it". Yay rolemodels.

It's been really hot today -- thinking about getting out the air conditioner levels of hot, which is crazy for this early in the year. 29. How can we go from too cold to too hot so fast? There aren't even any leaves on the trees yet! But I have herbs in the windowboxes, and the seeds I planted on Monday are starting to come up, and washing dried on the line in an hour.

In other news, Among Others/Morwenna is nominated for the Prix Imaginales as best fantasy in translation -- I'm sure it owes it largely to the great translation by Luc Carissimo.

7th May 2015

5:02pm: Thud: Necessity
Words: 2304
Total words: 68484
Files: 5
Tea: Blue People (ginseng oolong)
Music: still no music
Reason for stopping: end of chapter and time to make dinner

This probably wants going through again after dinner, but it's close enough to done.

This is the weirdest chapter.... maybe not ever, but for a long time.

It breaks into an epic poem in the middle, there's like 600 words of epic poem in that 2304 words. However, I know from experience (because I have done this before) that nobody will notice if I take the line breaks out. On the other hand, I'm leaving them in for now, because it's a fantasy novel, and you can have poetry in fantasy novels, can't you? Even if not usually quite like this. I'll see how it goes when people test read it. I might send it out both ways and see.

As I said on Twitter, when you say "Virgil did it" that's OK, but when you find yourself saying "Lucretius did it" that might be a problem.

Also Dante and Milton did it, but that doesn't help much either with the hubris or with making me feel it's perfectly normal. Though writing anything in Apollo-POV is hubris by definition, so this shouldn't be any worse, really.

OK, that was our deus ex machina for this book, nothing but Socratic debate all the way down to the end, I think.

6th May 2015

8:29pm: Thud: Necessity
Words: 2482
Total words: 66177
Files: 6
Tea: White tea with elderflower, and then elderflower and lemon
Music: No music. This book mostly wants quiet.
Reason for stopping: end of chapter.

That was a nice easy chapter for a change!

One cycle left. I think the book is going to come up a little short, though it will probably expand in revision, the other two did. And anyway, if it's 85,000 words, that's within tolerance.
10:18am: Poem in Huffington Post
The next ten years. For their ten year anniversary, they asked ten SF writers to write three hundred words about the next ten years. I stared at this in horror, and then wrote an oracular poem in terza rima, because that was so much easier. They were OK with this, thank goodness, and put it last, so you'll have to scroll down past other people making interesting and sensible predictions. Mine says they'll re-open the oracles and almost invent cold fusion.

4th May 2015

3:04pm: What Makes This Book So Great nominated for Locus Award
What Makes This Book So Great is nominated for a Locus award in the Nonfiction category, yay!

Check out the whole list, so much really great stuff there. It's not a perfect list, there are things I'd have liked to see that aren't there -- like Ruthanna Emrys's "Litany of Earth", and Patrick Rothfuss's "Slow Regard of Silent Things" but it's really a very good list.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to go to the Locus Awards because it's the weekend I'm going to ALA and I can't be in San Francisco and Seattle at the same time.
2:53pm: Thud: Necessity
Words: 2889 (some Friday, some today)
Total words: 63559
Files: 5
Tea: GABA dragon
Music: No music
Reason for stopping: end of chapter

Well, that's that chapter done. And rysmiel says the alien biology works.

Also, There's a giveaway for The Philosopher Kings on Goodreads.

1st May 2015

7:29pm: Tolkien's refutation of Plato
Socrates said he was waiting to hear
An answer to whether it's useful to see
The world through reflections that are poetry
Or whether it's better to lay things out clear.

He's waiting, with Glaucon, it's poetry's turn
To argue with Socrates: good for the soul
Or pretty fake shadows obscuring the goal?
The question's still open, they're eager to learn.

Tolkien would explain that all art still can save,
It isn't mimesis, artists subcreate,
Art comes around corners to help us be great
Grabs us hard by the soul and heads out of the cave.

So would you learn wisdom, learn virtue, do well?
Art's a friend at our side as we try to excel.

I just posted this as a comment on Daily Nous, where it was, honestly, relevant, and they asked for comments in verse, so there. Putting it here (as usual with reposted comment poetry) so I can find it again. Over there, I was posting it to an audience who know Plato, but probably not Tolkien, here, the opposite, how interesting.

So footnotes: Plato -- in book 10 of The Republic, Socrates and Glaucon really do decide to leave the argument about whether or not poetry, and art in general, is good for the soul or whether it's just imitation (mimesis) and pleasant but not beneficial, and Socrates says he'll hear arguments either in poetry or in prose on poetry's behalf. Some people think that ass Aristotle made a response to this in his Poetics, but in fact I don't think there was a really good argument in response to Plato on this point until Tolkien's On Fairy Stories, 1939, where Tolkien explains the concept of "subcreation" which was exactly what Socrates needed. And he would have been pleased and excited.

29th April 2015

4:31pm: Thud: Necessity
Words: 2388
Total words: 60669
Files: 5
Tea: GABA Dragon
Music: No music
Reason for stopping: end of chapter, also nearly time to make dinner

Another Crocus chapter. Crocus chapters are fun.

If you read my Thud posts, you will naturally encounter a certain level of spoilers. I do try to be careful about spoiling certain things that I think would spoil enjoyment of reading. I am having extra trouble with this for this book, because so much spoils either the end of book 1 or the end of book 2, and the end of book 2... well, both endings are deliberately deus ex machina. So I'm not saying the other thing I got to have fun with in this chapter. But it was fun!

I expect spoilers for the end of The Philosopher Kings to be all over once more people have read it, but I advise you to read it unspoiled if you can. It's coming out June 30th, that isn't all that long now. Ths snow has all melted and there and flowers starting, it's nearly May.

Oh, and thinking about the end of June, I am going to ALA again. It's in San Francisco this year, which is much more civilized. So I will be in San Francisco at the end of June if anyone wants to meet up in between me doing ALA things. Let me know. And of course, I'll also be in San Francisco in August for the Tiptree event, so lots of chances for Bay Area people to hang out with me this summer!

27th April 2015

3:56pm: Thud: Necessity
Words: 2874
Total words: 58198
Files: 6
Tea: White tea with Elderflower, and before that Blue People
Music: No music
Reason for stopping: end of chapter, finally

I've been writing this chapter since Friday, very glad to have it done. I also sort of know what I'm doing with the end, I think.

And you know how people say oh, having FTL in something makes it fantasy, and usually I've heard people say this in a sneering kind of way that seems like it's putting down both magic and FTL because neither of them are actual science, and actual science trumps everything? In this universe, I have a metaphysical explanation for how FTL works which works with both the (Platonic) physics and (Neoplatonic) metaphysics of this universe. I've known this for ages, but an alien just very neatly explained it. Not the alien who works on a fishing boat. A different alien. There are lots of aliens. Robots too, And FTL drives. Nevertheless, it remains fantasy.

Oh, and that reminds me, there was a starred Kirkus review of The Philosopher Kings. This makes no sense because a) they always hate me, and b) they hated the first book, which is better. But no accounting for taste.

23rd April 2015

4:33pm: Thud: Necessity
Words: 2937
Total words: 54786
Files: 6
Tea: GABA Dragon
Music: No music
Reason for stopping: end of chapter, time to make dinner

So that's chapter 20 done. I finally got the people out of the room and headed off in different directions!

Is there an ungendered term for "fisherman"? I've managed to get away without using it so far, but I sort of need it for "I'm not a philosopher, only a fisherman. Plato's Allegory of the Cave is good enough for me." The person saying this is male, so he could say fisherman, but the two other people who work on the fishingboat are a woman and an alien, so it would be nice to have a term that worked for all of them if possible. Fisherman, fisherwoman, fisheralien is just too clunky.

22nd April 2015

7:25pm: Thud: Necessity
Words: 2905
Total words: 51748
Files: 6
Tea: White tea with Elderflower and Apricot, then Elderflower and Lemon
Music: No music
Reason for stopping: end of chapter

So that's chapter 19 done. Progress!

21st April 2015

3:11pm: Thud: Necessity
Words: 2789
Total words: 48843
Files: 6
Tea: White Orchard
Music: Brandenberg Concertos
Reason for stopping: end of chapter 18

That chapter was much easier than the previous chapter! Now I have to figure out the next one. Always the way.

"Trying to use words. And every attempt
Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learned to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling
Undisciplined squads of emotion."

T.S. Eliot, East Coker, Four Quartets

There's masses in Four Quartets about how difficult it is to write. On the one hand, it's suprising there's not more poetry about that, considering. On the other, what do people who don't write make of it? It's like Paul Simon assuming that writing songs is a basic human activity.

20th April 2015

3:53pm: Thud: Necessity
Words: 2675
Total words: 46032
Files: 6
Tea: Pu erh, then elderflower and lemon
Music: Brandenberg concertos
Reason for stopping: I was writing this on and off all weekend, not really stopping

Chapter 17 done, very slow and annoying and containing too many people, but mostly OK now I think. Now working on chapter 18.

Boat people -- if you were familiar with sailing schooners and really very familar with little Greek fishing boats (some of them with solar powered emergency motors, perhaps) and you saw a trireme for the first time, what would be the obvious things you'd notice and mention as differences? I want a couple of things to put into "this boat was weird because" in addition to the colour of the sails.
12:31pm: Philisopher Kings ARC on Con or Bust
The Con or Bust auction is live, and as usual they have a ton of great stuff -- go and see. There is a copy of the Philosopher Kings ARC, signed and with the word "Capitalize" hand-crossed-out by me, and if you want to bid, get over there and do so.

(I only have one ARC left which I'm donating to the Balticon auction, which essentially means I have no ARCs left.)
9:52am: Among Others nominated for Seuin
Among Others has been nominated for a Seiun, the Japanese award.

This is really neat.

For one thing, it means it has been nominated for awards in five seven countries now -- US, Canada, UK, Germany, France, and Spain.

For another, there's a really awesome shortlist, the kind of shortlist that it's really exciting to be listed on, where just being listed with those books is a huge honour, and also where whatever wins it'll be great. It's for books that were translated into Japanese last year, so the books obviously came out in English at different times.

Ernest Cline Ready Player One
Ian MacDonald The Dervish House
John Scalzi Redshirts
Jo Walton Among Others
Andy Weir The Martian

Yay, Seiun, go Japanese fans and their excellent taste.

16th April 2015

3:10pm: Thud: Necessity
Words: 2509
Total words: 43357
Files: 6
Tea: Jin Die
Music: No music
Reason for stopping: end of chapter and have to get ready to go out

Unexpectedly fun Crocus chapter.

No, that's not fair, all the Crocus chapters have been fun, to the extent that when stuck I've been asking myself if I couldn't write the whole book in Crocus POV. (No.) Unexpectedly plot-heavy, is what.
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