Calendar, idiocy, limitations, 1 in 25, us & more

Thu 27 Jan 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Do yourself a favor: order Swamplandia now.

coverHere’s a suggestion for next year’s calendar: Storytellers 2012: The Author Interview Calendar from Balladier Press. Locally made and full of interviews with good people including Lois Lowry, Gregory Maguire, Sara Paretsky, Robert Pinsky, and Shaun Tan.

I find it hard to believe that Nick Bilton is “the lead technology writer for the New York Times” because in this article he seems clueless about books and rights &c. Maybe it’s because I’m mired in them everyday. It’s funny: if he’d gone to a library, I’d be fine with this (ugh, teasing apart behaviours!) as they would have bought the books. At least pay your coffee rent if you’re going to sit there playing with the books for hours. (Via firebrand Pat Holt)

BTW Nick, yes, you are doing wrong. But as Nicola Griffith says readers are who we’re trying to reach and it frustrates me when I can’t make the customer happy. (Well, most of the time. I’ve worked retail: the customer is frequently right but sometimes completely wrong.) I’m completely frustrated because agents and writers won’t sell World English ebook rights even though no one else is going to buy those rights which means readers everywhere except in North America (hello Mexican readers, hello Brazil, hello Charles, & so on) will be left to either go without (go on, try it, you’ll love not reading that book . . . er, wait . . .) or pirating. Wonder which one they’ll choose?

LucilleAnyway, in happy news today, A Life on Paper by Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud and translated from the French by Edward Gauvin, is on the 25-title long list for the Best Translated Book Award. In March they throw 15 of those books out and “Winners will be announced on April 29th in New York City, as part of the PEN World Voices Festival.” Just in time, we have a post coming up from Edward about a recent conversation he had with Châteaureynaud about his career. Edward’s in Belgium reading and translating—can’t wait to see what he comes up with—and here he writes about the best fry joint in Brussels and to going to a comics signing with Ludovic Debeurme, Top Shelf are going to publish his book Lucille in the US this spring, and he will be at the PEN World Voices Festival. Maybe everyone will be there! Maybe we should go. See you there?

And there’s a great closely read review of LCRW 26 at SFF Portal.

You have to go see what Australian zinester Vanessa Berry did to her house when her book club read Magic for Beginners.

Hey look, there’s a profile of the press in one of our local papers, the Valley Advocate—except I am not in the Valley this week. Someone save me a copy! (Also, it got picked up by io9, nice!) I like that the writer takes the story wider at the end:

It’s an oft-heard story in the Valley: an idea that coalesces from the background noise of urban hipster climes comes to rest here. Such moves are often generated by practical concerns like lower rent and quality of life, but the accretion of cultural capital like that of Small Beer or a hundred more arts-driven enterprises has made the Valley a place like few others.

He’s right. You can hardly toss a caber down Northampton’s Main Street (as with Easthampton, Amherst, Hadley, Holyoke, etc.) without it bouncing off two artists (they make them strong out there), being photographed a couple of times, having a dance piece choreographed about it, at at last squishing a couple of writers.



What I See, part 9, by Karen Joy Fowler

Thu 27 Jan 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Author

What I See, part 9, by Karen Joy Fowler

According to today’s paper, sea otter deaths are increasing. The probable cause is various diseases carried in the water run-off. Kitty litter is particularly suspect. So that feeling I had that all was well in the bay has been short-lived.

This week Mojito is scheduled for some major surgery. She has to have a large, (benign!) fatty growth removed from her chest. What this surgery will cost us would, in the 1800s, have bought a comfortable house in San Diego or four sea otter pelts. I just wish we were spending it on something she’d enjoy.

So I’m thankful that today’s walk was so perfect. The big surprise was to find the dog beach completely free of seaweed. The beach has been adopted by both a hydroponics firm and a construction company, but I can’t imagine they would, or could, have managed such a clean-up. It must have been the tide and I noticed that while usually the curl of the waves are black with seaweed, today they were an empty, glassy green. We have apparently arrived at the dog beach’s no-seaweed season.  I never noticed before that there was one.

We had that clean sand all to ourselves, which is the way MJ likes it. And she found a tennis ball. I don’t take tennis balls to the beach because they result in certain obsessive behaviors that spoil the rest of the walk. But finding a ball on the beach works for everyone. MJ chased it in the waves. She dug holes and buried it. She played a game of solitary catch, tossing it up and catching it again. She was one happy dog.

Afterward, she carried it carefully up the stairs and for another block or so before it got to be too much of a responsibility and she abandoned it in the ice plant.

Previous posts:

What I See
What I See, part 2
Interrupting our regular schedule . . .
What I See, part 3

What I See, part 4

What I See, part 5
What I See, part 6
What I See, part 7
What I See, part 8



a question for kid’s booksellers/librarians

Wed 26 Jan 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | 2 Comments| Posted by: Gavin

The Fires Beneath the Sea cover - click to view full sizeWe’ve been sending out galleys of our May title, Lydia Millet’s The Fires Beneath the Sea, to children’s booksellers and librarians and have 15 more available.

Booksellers/librarians please email us at info at smallbeerpress.com with your work (i.e. bookshop or library) address and we’ll drop you one in the mail (as soon as the next nor’easter is done!).

And! Consortium has some more galleys for librarians here.

ETA: That’s it, we’re out! We received tons of requests: thank you to everyone who forwarded it on.



Library of a global nomad by Karen Lord

Wed 26 Jan 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | 1 Comment| Posted by: Author

Library of a global nomad by Karen Lord

I inherited a love of travel from my father and a love of books from my mother, and it has been a challenge trying to balance the two. Books accumulate, and when they accumulate while I am away from home, I have a problem. They are heavy, shipping is costly, and you can only fit so many books into a suitcase before it becomes a health and safety issue for both you and the luggage handlers.

I tried to save the best, of course. Each time I went home I’d leave a few behind, even if that meant I wouldn’t see them for a year. I bought second hand books, reasoning that it would be less painful to give those up, but that ploy failed when I became emotionally attached to the familiar old covers of earlier editions. Some of the best could not be saved; textbooks trump fiction when choosing which doorstopper to transport. And some, best or not, I still gave away when I got home . . . say book three to a friend who had books one, two and four of a series (those were the days before the broad choice of online bookstores).

I dreamed of ebooks. I discovered Project Gutenberg, read texts on my Tungsten and imagined the day when I would be able to hold entire libraries of leisure reading, textbooks and research papers on a light, sturdy, paperback-sized screen. Of course I prefer ‘the real thing’. I have my page-flipping search technique down to a fine art and shun the common bookmark (real or virtual). Furthermore, I am a vigorous reader. I do not sit posed and polite with the book held gently open to preserve the spine from breaking. I roll on the floor with books. I eat with a book in one hand. I take books to places with water, sand and grit, places inimical to the delicate structures of electronic devices. But I will never be rich enough to afford to travel with a proper collection of deadtree books.

Things are improving—e-readers, formats and availability of titles—but my dream has adjusted slightly. I want both. I want a publisher to give me, the reader, a reasonable print and e-book package, the real and the virtual together. Imagine the possibilities! I could buy a e-book to read while in London and have the print version sent home for my library in Barbados. I could arrange for the book to be shipped to a friend, or to an after-school reading club. In fact, why don’t publishers adopt some literary charitable concern or outreach programme and encourage me to buy a package with the option to donate the print or audiobook portion towards the indoctrination of a new generation of literati?

I don’t know how this post went from book nostalgia to world domination, but there it is. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to research e-readers and bookcase design and create a plan of action and a timeline for making my dream come true.

Previous posts:

Crossroads
Fictional Geography
Endings
Ghost in the Machine



Happy Burns Night

Tue 25 Jan 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal. | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Just before the end of the day: the kid’s asleep and it’s time for a dram to celebrate Burns Night! We had our (veggie) haggis, neeps, and tatties for dinner—accompanied by Michael’s excellent beer.

Before dinner I gave a quick rendition of “Address to a Haggis” which made Ursula laugh. She didn’t try the haggis this year, maybe next time.

Away!



Amazon’s latest snack: an ALA email newsletter

Tue 25 Jan 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal. | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

The other day when Booklist Online Exclusives monthly newsletter came in it announced that Amazon is now sponsoring them. Erk. There’s no escape!

The newsletter now has a ton of links to Amazon, a bestseller list, and a new section (“Sponsored Content”) that gives a “profile of an author published by either AmazonEncore or AmazonCrossing.” Does this mean the newsletter has just lost its editorial independence?

Does sponsoring one measly newsletter (or it could be more for all I know) mean Amazon has any influence over the ALA? Probably not. The ALA is huge. But this recent article on college applications in the Times (“applicants to a parent’s alma mater had, on average, seven times the odds of admission of nonlegacy applicants”) which says money can have a direct influence outcome does give pause for thought.

Recently Amazon have been throwing money at as many literary nonprofits and organizations as they can and everyone is clamoring for it because fundraising, which is always difficult, is even harder right now.

Mostly, these sponsorships are cheap PR for Amazon. Slate wrote about this at some point and pointed out Amazon don’t say how much they give nor how often. Did they give a grant to 826 Seattle once, or is it annual? The application is right there on that page but they can’t “respond individually to each request.” Transparency and Amazon never go hand in hand.

Part of me is irked that they screw publishers harder than anyone else on one side then get props in the literary field for supporting some great organizations. Including, ironically, some nonprofit publishers. Nice to know that the extra % they demand every year is going back to support their books.

But this is just me worrying about opening another email and seeing it too has been taken over by Amazon. I know they can’t take over everything but it sure feels they’re trying to sometimes.



Beer? Books? Tea!

Tue 25 Jan 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Go bid on a Small Beer Sixpack at Con or Bust! (Also included: an LCRW subscription, any other non-SBP books we find around the office.) If you bid more than $200 we’ll swap out the local brew sixpack holder for a lovely, handmade, wooden Small Beer Press beer holder which you can proudly tote your beer (or other beverage of choice) around in for years to come.

Who? What? “Con or Bust helps people of color attend WisCon and other SFF conventions that are committed to increasing racial diversity and understanding in science fiction and fantasy fandom and the field generally.”

What’s this Sixpack? Listeners to “Forum with Michael Krasny” on KQED in San Francisco can hear more about it tomorrow (Wednesday) morning at approximately 10:52 because they have some Sixpacks to give out to supporters. San Francisco: get your radio and your books on!

Also, later in spring, WPR in Minnesota will have some, too.

Meanwhile, I just made a pot of Fahari Ya Kenya tea—it’s lovely stuff: a real rocket to the moon. Half the time (actually: more than half) I end up making bog standard tea using Irish or British teabags so it was nice to make a real pot. The tea was brought from Kenya by a local writer, David Rowinski (who will have a story in an upcoming issue of LCRW), who picked it up while visiting his wife, singer Sali Oyugi. He also brought some books and we’ve been listening to one of his wife’s previous CDs, “The Return: Journey to the Source.” This song isn’t on the CD but here’s one of her’s on the mighty Tube:



What I See, part 8, by Karen Joy Fowler

Tue 25 Jan 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Author

What I See, part 8, by Karen Joy Fowler

I was up and on my walk early this morning, which is the way I like it, though I don’t set the alarm because what’s the point of being a writer if you get up with an alarm? The sun was rising; the sky was pink and the water was silver. And there was a wild tangle of contrails in the sky as if some jet had been buzzing about like a bee. I walked with my back to the sun and my face toward the full moon, which was still falling into the mountains. Incredibly beautiful, even the contrails.

I’ve been seeing the bay as an imperiled system, as it clearly is. But it’s also a system recovered and today I’m happily focused on that. Last night I went to the Capitola Book Café and heard Stephen R. Palumbi talk about his co-authored book, The Death and Life of Monterey Bay. As a result, I now know that the bay was nearly destroyed by pollution and over-fishing, but is currently in its best shape in some 200 years. I can’t tell you how much knowing this improves my walk.

I haven’t been mentioning the sea otters much, though I do usually see some. It turns out my silence concerning them is a local tradition. In the 1800’s the otters were hunted, people thought, to extinction. For many years, the few that survived were protected by residents around Monterey Bay by an informal agreement of secrecy.

Around 1937, the otter population began to rebound. As a direct result, the kelp forests returned. The canneries were idle. The bay began to recover from the period when they weren’t. I learned last night that this happened largely through activism. I learned that I have a great many people to thank for the beautiful bay I walk along and, it’s not important, but pleases me, that so many of them were writers. I’d already known some of their names: Ed Ricketts, John Steinbeck, Joseph Campbell. But I hadn’t heard of Julia Platt, arguably among the earliest and most effective of the activists, and she died without seeing the impact she’d eventually have, which saddens me.

I’ve been losing faith in activism—the money and power and greed of the opposition has just seemed so overwhelming—and our elected officials so unreliable. But today as I sit listening to the sea lions and the sea gulls, I’m thinking that really, we only have to be as good, we only have to try as hard and for as long, as the people who came before us. And not mind dying before anything is fixed.

A desalination plant has been proposed and is being tested in Santa Cruz. Meetings have been held regarding its potential impact on marine life. I guess I’m ready to go to some meetings.

PS – my daughter tells me that the bits of brain I saw on the beach earlier this week were probably parts of a sponge from the Monterey Bay canyon.

Previous posts:

What I See
What I See, part 2
Interrupting our regular schedule . . .
What I See, part 3
What I See, part 4
What I See, part 5
What I See, part 6
What I See, part 7



Sekrit news

Mon 24 Jan 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

I am dancing about in an annoyingly childish way singing about the sekrits I am sekritly keeping. Mostly from myself (Irrational self to rational self: “I know your bank balance, I know your bank balance, ha ha ha! ha ha!“) but also from you! Aren’t I mean!

I am actually dancing around because it is cooooold in Boston: 11 degrees F (which = Damn Cold in celsius) right now and the automatic heat in our apartment thinks it is summer so it is on low. Ha ha. So how can I have any faith in artificial intelligence when I can’t trust the stupid heater to work when it is cold?

Later this week when it is warmer Karen Lord (“I dreamed of ebooks. . . .”) and Karen Joy Fowler  (“I’ve been losing faith in activism . . .” !) will be back blogging and in the meantime Karen F’s collection has been making some pixels happy:

Karen talked with Rick Kleffel about Ursula K. Le Guin on the Agony Column podcast. (The tables get turned on Rick and he gets interviewed here.)

What I Didn’t See and Other Stories was included on a couple of great lists: the Story Prize‘s Long List of Notable Books and Gwenda Bond‘s Top Ten for 2010 (“every story shines like a rare gem”) on Locus—so that’s two great reading lists, yay!

and it was reviewed on newish site, Chamber Four:

For some authors, a short story collections is like a science lab. The stories in this collection, published over a span of nearly two decades, show Fowler experimenting with many different styles and forms distinct from her novels. But no matter the genre or subject, the author retains what makes her full-length books so successful: an attention to detail,an ear for language, and compassion for her characters. For those who have found Fowler through her novels, these stories offer a chance to encounter an imaginative storyteller as she moves from subject to subject.

And Con or Bust is running its auction where you can become a god! There will be some Small Beer goodies appearing there, too. Excellent prezzies are are available now!



I’m Reading a Book!

Fri 21 Jan 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

(Via)



On Writing On by Vincent McCaffrey

Fri 21 Jan 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | 1 Comment| Posted by: Author

On Writing On by Vincent McCaffrey

Everyone I have ever spoken to or read about who writes has a different reason for doing it. Love is far less complicated.

Some have similar reasons but never exactly the same.

The most often heard and most unlikely reason is money. That situation has more in common with the ’49’s who went to California to strike it rich panning gold and ended up with other lives along the way. Very few, even of the best, get rich.

Another frequently used excuse (they are all excuses after all) is to understand oneself. In a lifetime of reading I have found only a handful of writers who understood themselves and those are the ones who had such knowledge to begin with.

Fame can be dismissed with riches as patently stupid and demonstrably foolish. I can name ten great authors (not good ones–great ones), off the cuff, who are essentially unknown.

Read more



t’other day we

Thu 20 Jan 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

signed contracts with Delia Sherman for her latest novel, The Freedom Maze. Yay! Delia’s been working on this novel for years and we can’t wait to get it out to readers. Well, because of how this biz works, “can’t wait”= November! (Which, daftly, seems just around the corner in publishing terms. Bet this book is on our Best Books for the Holidays 2011 list. Ha!) The Freedom Maze is a Big Mouth House hardcover:

13-year-old Sophie isn’t happy about spending summer at her grandmother’s old house in the Bayou. But the house has a maze Sophie can’t resist exploring once she finds it has a secretive and playful inhabitant. When she makes an impulsive wish, she finds herself suddenly one hundred years in the past, in 1860. And, she is taken for a slave.

And from there, things get interesting.

We’re working on a cover (with a maze, natch), and we’ll have galleys by May if not before and we’ll try and keep y’all up to date with the happenings!



100 Years of Unease

Thu 20 Jan 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | 5 Comments| Posted by: Author

100 Years of Unease by Edward Gauvin (translator of Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud’s A Life on Paper: Stories)

This year, the centenary of Thomas Owen’s birth, was marked in Belgium by a series of readings, lectures, and events under the general heading “100 Years of Disquiet”—a tribute to the author regularly cited, along with Jean Ray and Franz Hellens, as a pillar of Belgian fantastical fiction. Owen (1910-2002) is such a monument in Belgium it’s hard to believe that in the English-speaking world he is an exceedingly well-kept secret, known only on the basis of a single book to a handful of dedicated horror fans.

The story goes like this: there once was a lawyer named Gérald Bertot, who worked all his life in the management of the same flour-milling factory. He held a doctorate in criminology, and a side career in art criticism under the pseudonym Stéphane Rey. Spared service in World War II, he turned to writing mysteries for money, with the encouragement of Stanislas-André Steeman, a celebrated craftsman of Belgian noir. In Tonight at Eight (1941), he introduced the police commissioner Thomas Owen—a character whose name he liked so much he later took it as his own when he embarked on what he has called his true calling, his career as a fantasist. Read more



Steampunk! ToC

Wed 19 Jan 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments| Posted by: Gavin

Today Kelly and I are handing over the final copyedited manuscript of the anthology we’ve been working on for the last year or so: Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories to our editor, Deborah Noyes at Candlewick. Yay!

It’s been a huge amount of fun getting the stories (and two comics!) from the writers who hail from the US, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. There was the usual amount of last minute hijinks trying to corral 14 authors (including Kelly!) to go over the copyedits in superquick time, luckily for me none of them were on internet sabbatical.

But that it all done. The introduction is written, the bios are in, the stories are copyedited (and the copyediting arguments are over!) and so out the door it goes. Now we get to put together a website (although getting back to the 19th century and doing a website is harder than I expected it to be) and at some point soon we’ll get to post the cover. Candlewick showed us a couple of exciting cover roughs—more on that when it’s finalized.

And now: the table of contents!

Cassandra Clare, “Some Fortunate Future Day”
Libba Bray, “The Last Ride of the Glory Girls”
Cory Doctorow, “Clockwork Fagin”
Shawn Cheng, “Seven Days Beset by Demons” (comic)
Ysabeau Wilce, “Hand in Glove”
Delia Sherman, “The Ghost of Cwmlech Manor”
Elizabeth Knox, “Gethsemene”
Kelly Link, “The Summer People”
Garth Nix, “Peace in Our Time”
Christopher Rowe, “Nowhere Fast”
Kathleen Jennings, “Finishing School” (comic)
Dylan Horrocks, “Steam Girl”
Holly Black, “Everything Amiable and Obliging”



Ghost in the Machine by Karen Lord

Wed 19 Jan 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | 1 Comment| Posted by: Author

Ghost in the Machine by Karen Lord

I suffered (and I do not use the word lightly) two serious computer crashes in the weeks before Christmas. The first one was vexing, but ultimately I was complacent about my files due to my habit of backing up data at various levels and to various degrees in about five different places. The second crash, which killed my main and largest backup drive, destroyed my complacency at last.

On my first visit to the repair shop, I met a fellow customer who turned out to be a thinker. He saw me on a borrowed computer restoring my iPod, which had also suffered during the First Crash. I explained to him that although the process would restore an iPod, it would not restore my iPod, my Caritas, with my particular blend of apps, music, vids, books and settings. However, I was not worried because somewhere in the heart of my backup was the real Caritas in potentia, waiting to be called back into being.

That reads more seriously than how I said it. At the time I was giddy with the gallows-humour of the seriously-inconvenienced, and I spoke with mock-pedantry using words like aether, virtuality and potentialityRead more



Jean Ray by Edward Gauvin

Tue 18 Jan 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | 2 Comments| Posted by: Author

Jean Ray by Edward Gauvin (translator of Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud’s A Life on Paper: Stories)

No survey of Belgian fiction can fail to mention Jean Ray, born Raymundus Joannes Maria de Kremer—but where to begin? Any biographical account of the “Belgian Poe” seems to adopt the narrative strategy of one of his most famous stories, “La ruelle ténébreuse” (variously translated as “The Shadowy Street,” “The Street of Shadows,” and “The Tenebrous Alley,” though I prefer “The Shadowy Alley,” for Ray’s voice always lends the sinister a slightly mocking air): what knowledge there is comes to us piecemeal and unverifiable, often in conflicting accounts from scattered sources, such that the only final feeling is one of uncertainty. If his friend and self-professed disciple Thomas Owen is to be believed, Jean Ray was part Indiana Jones, part Father Damien, and part Robert Langdon—adventurer, exorcist, and esoteric scholar, at least in Owen’s short story “The Bernkastel Graveyard.” In fact it pleased this man of many pseudonyms (John Flanders, Kaptain Bill, John Sailor. J.R. Ray) to appear in his friends’ fiction: in Alice Sauton’s Iblis or the Encounter with the Evil Angel, in adventure writer Henri Vernes’ Spectres of Atlantis and Smugglers of the Caribbean, featuring Vernes’ popular hero Bob Morane, where Ray has a cameo as the sailor Tiger Jack. Ray had a particular fondness for nautical skullduggery, and actively encouraged the proliferation of rumors surrounding his person and past. Read more



What I See, part 7, by Karen Joy Fowler

Mon 17 Jan 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Author

What I See, part 7, by Karen Joy Fowler

Yesterday I resumed my cliff walk after a holiday pause. Christmas came to town much like the circus, complete with parties, guests, dreadful influenzas, and deadlines. It was either the circus or else the four horseman of the apocalypse. Those are hard to tell apart.

Mostly I enjoyed it, because my family is good, witty company and there was drinking and even, god help us, charades. But it was an indoor sort of fun, dampened by the fact that just about everyone but me got sick at some point. I gained some pounds, lost some fitness, and when I got back to my walk, I felt those things. The ocean, I’m happy to report, is still there.

My walk was a bit later in the day than usual, which yesterday meant sunshine and bluer water. But across the way, where Monterey should have been, I saw only fog, piled like snowdrift along the horizon. The dog beach was small, but there was beach so MJ and I went on down. The steps have become a mermaid stair, the railings along the bottom flight all garlanded in seaweed from time spent underwater.

And remember the four-foot wall I mentioned a few posts back? More like six feet yesterday. It occurs to me that I have yet to find the bottom of that wall, which when fully exposed may turn out to be something you could see from space.

It was a beautiful morning on which to resume my usual life. By the time the walk was over the fog had crossed the water and wrapped us up, but while we were on the dogbeach, the sun still shone. A dozen sandpipers dashed about on the wet sand like little wind-up toys. I find the leg action of sandpipers very pleasing. I can’t be the only one. Glassy blue water. The silhouettes of the sandpipers. MJ rolling in the rotted seaweed. And something washed up on the sand that my marine biologist daughter could no doubt easily identify but I could not. It appeared to be part of someone’s brain.

I touched it with the toe of my shoe and it seemed too solid to be sea-life and too soft to be shell. MJ came to see what I was looking at, took one sniff, and then backed quickly away. Twenty paces on I found a second piece of it, which MJ also gave wide berth to. MJ is good at not seeing what she doesn’t wish to see and yesterday she did not wish to see brain bits in the sand.

Previous posts:

What I See
What I See, part 2
Interrupting our regular schedule . . .
What I See, part 3
What I See, part 4
What I See, part 5
What I See, part 6



Some things to look forward to

Mon 17 Jan 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Author

We got some lovely news about Poppy Brite’s Second Line: it was selected for the ALA’s Over the Rainbow committee’s inaugural list of LGBTIQ books for adults—along with Sandra McDonald, a Batwoman comic, James Magruder’s Sugarless, Queering the Text, Locas II (still haven’t got this, want!), and titles from the good folks at Midsummer Night’s Press, Chizine, Blind Eye Books. Overall the committee selected 108 titles, which should make for a good reading list (hope my local library adds them all!), and if you want even more reading, here are all the nominated titles.

After the Rain: After the Floods limited ebook editionOn Weightless we just added After the Rain: After the Floods edited by Tehani Wessely, which is a fundraiser for the Queensland Flood Relief Appeal—100% of the proceeds go to the Flood Appeal. Queensland has been hit brutally hard and this is a great way to pitch in. Buy one for everyone you know! Anything you can do to help spread the word would be appreciated.

This week we have some of our writers back after the holidays and posting again—the good news is that some will continue throughout winter into spring. Enjoy!

Karen Joy Fowler is back walking the dog after:

Christmas came to town much like the circus, complete with parties, guests, dreadful influenzas, and deadlines. It was either the circus or else the four horseman of the apocalypse. Those are hard to tell apart.

Karen Lord on machines, ghosts, dependence, and what a writer needs:

I suffered (and I do not use the word lightly) two serious computer crashes in the weeks before Christmas. The first one was vexing, but ultimately I was complacent about my files due to my habit of backing up data at various levels and to various degrees in about five different places. The second crash, which killed my main and largest backup drive, destroyed my complacency at last.

Vincent McCaffrey reveals the secret of why writers write:

Having ‘something to say’ is just as silly a reason to write. Why should anyone care what you have to say? Are you rich? Are you famous? Are you wise? No. Well then. Case closed.

I have frequently encountered the ruse ‘I hate to write. I don’t know why I do it.’ Or some such unlikely statement. This is the equivalent of what Br’er Rabbit told Br’er Fox. “Please don’t throw me in that briar patch.”

And Edward Gauvin introduces two more writers from the Belgian school of the strange:

1) There once was a lawyer named Gérald Bertot, who worked all his life in the management of the same flour-milling factory. He held a doctorate in criminology, and a side career in art criticism under the pseudonym Stéphane Rey. Spared service in World War II, he turned to writing mysteries for money, with the encouragement of Stanislas-André Steeman, a celebrated craftsman of Belgian noir. In Tonight at Eight (1941), he introduced the police commissioner Thomas Owen—a character whose name he liked so much he later took it as his own when he embarked on what he has called his true calling, his career as a fantasist.

2) No survey of Belgian fiction can fail to mention Jean Ray, born Raymundus Joannes Maria de Kremer—but where to begin? . . . Ray had a particular fondness for nautical skullduggery, and actively encouraged the proliferation of rumors surrounding his person and past



Waiting around for Borders to live, &c.

Thu 13 Jan 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Borders StoresBorders have about 3,500 copies of our books in stock. Hmm. Selfish wonderings: if they go under, will we get those books back? Will we get paid for the lovely numbers of Under the Poppy, Stories of Your Life, The Poison Eaters, and some backlist books such as Poppy Brite’s Second Line, they’ve been selling? I really hope they don’t close. I can’t imagine all those booksellers and so on being chucked out of work right now. Yes, ebooks are the future, but we need all kinds of bricks and mortar (or mall and strip mall) in the meantime to remind people that there are books out there to be read, not just shoes and gadgets and food court lunches.

So, we, along with all the other publishers who have shipped books to them, await the outcome of today’s meetings with baited breath!

Besides wondering about that we’ve been enjoying the lovely busyness of Weightless and adding new titles for the next season—Fall 2011! I’ve hardly wrapped my head around last year never mind this spring or summer—we have tons of new books to publish before Fall comes rolling around. But that’s the book biz, so we’re adding away. What are we adding? Some of the books are Super Sekrit (as in: we have no contracts yet) but others . . . ok, this isn’t the place for that.

But I did sign two contracts today: the first was a contract for Turkish rights for Couch. It will no doubt be an age until the book comes in, so something to look forward to. And the second was for the audio rights to Redemption in Indigo. Although that contract still needs to come back to me countersigned, so maybe those chickens should not yet be counted.

And we heard from the printer that the second printing of Ted Chiang’s Stories of Your Life and Others will ship at the end of the month—go Ted! It’s such a fabulous book and we are so happy to see it being picked up by a whole new generation of readers.

We haven’t managed to send Paradise Tales to the printer yet so it looks very doubtful that that will be out on time. Boo! Is it our most complicated book yet? (That anthology we’re doing later this year might give it a run for its money.) Geoff did let slip that he’s just finished a new novel. Not sure if we’ll get a peek at or not. Of course we want!

The latest LCRW (#26) received a couple of nice reviews recently on  SF Revu & Rise Reviews, although, come on, since when was LCRW (or Small Beer) noncommercial?

Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet is certainly a horse of a different color. I can’t think of where else I’d be able to read and assembly of stories so diverse. Though some were not to my particular taste, I applaud the editors for their fearless inclusion of some pieces that would otherwise not see the light of day simply due to their noncommercial nature. Any fan of speculative fiction, or simply good writing, will find something to like in LCRW.

Reviews of our new edition of Solitaire are popping up everywhere including Future Fire which has reminders that this is SF, not contemporary literature, “Questions concerning sexual equality and sexuality are not discussed and this invisibility is genuinely innovative and refreshing.” Can’t wait for the day when sexual equality and sexuality not being discussed is run of the mill rather than innovative.

What else? The Working Writer’s Daily Planner is our bestseller so far this year—that should last until the end of the month. It’s now $7.95.

And Paolo Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker won the Printz Award. Wow. That guy is unstoppable! And now’s a good time to pimp last year’s most excellent winner, Going Bovine.

BTW, we’re giving away copies of Solitaire on both Library Thing and Goodreads. Of course, you or your friend may neeeed a copy for yourself, too.



Solitaire: a novel

Tue 11 Jan 2011 - Filed under: Books, Kelley Eskridge | 5 Comments| Posted by: intern

9781931520102 · paperback/ebook · January 2011

Soon to be a motion picture: OtherLife.

A New York Times Notable Book, Borders Original Voices selection, and Nebula, Endeavour, and Spectrum Award finalist.

“A stylistic and psychological tour de force.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Suspenseful and inspiring.”—School Library Journal

Jackal Segura is a Hope: born to responsibility and privilege as a symbol of a fledgling world government. Soon she’ll become part of the global administration, sponsored by the huge corporation that houses, feeds, employs, and protects her and everyone she loves. Then, just as she discovers that everything she knows is a lie, she becomes a pariah, a murderer: a person with no community and no future. Grief-stricken and alone, she is put into an experimental program designed to inflict the experience of years of solitary confinement in a few short months: virtual confinement in a sealed cell within her own mind. Afterward, branded and despised, she returns to a world she no longer knows.

Struggling to make her way, she has a chance to rediscover her life, her love, and her soul—in a strange place of shattered hopes and new beginnings called Solitaire.

Reviews

Solitaire brilliantly explores . . . the dubious boundary between ‘virtual reality’ and the act of imagination — all in the ageless story of a bright, risky kid trying to find out who she is and where her freedom lies.”
—Ursula K. Le Guin (A Wizard of Earthsea)

“Kelley Eskridge uses all the best stuff — passion and deception, devotion and betrayal — to deliver a knock-out first novel.”
—Karen Joy Fowler (We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves)

Solitaire is a novel of our time: a story of dashed expectations and corporate manipulations. Eskridge explores what it means to really see ourselves, and what we are ultimately capable of. Jackal, a slight adolescent, matures into an adult capable of living well, no matter what her circumstances. She is a worthy role model for any reader.”
BookPage

“Vivid and provocative.”
The Baltimore Sun

“As with Eskridge’s short fiction, the vividness of the characters is what makes this book so memorable.”
Locus

“Psychological insights that would warm the heart of Alice Hoffman.”
The Seattle Times

“Teen readers who are fond of the genre will embrace Solitaire with ease while fans of YA dystopian titles will find a character who possesses all the cool and quiet power of the best girl hero in a story that is light years beyond the standard fare. Jackal is no wimp or whiner, nor is she a born “chosen one.” In every way that matters she is the product of the corporate culture (both personally and professionally) that embraced her from birth; she is certainly a twenty-first century construct we can all recognize. The struggles she goes through are always tempered with very personal loss, both as a result of the accident that finds her imprisoned and the distance from the love of her life who remains back on Ko. What rocks so much about Solitaire is that Eskridge has put as much time and attention into her character building as the plot and that means that while we marvel at the world she created, we also respond on a fundamental level with Jackal and the girl she loves who never stops loving her back. This book is a treasure; a true jewel for readers longing for big ideas and intimate story.”
—Colleen Mondor, Bookslut

“Takes the reader down to the bone . . . Eskridge’s skillful use of detail, her strong characters and evocative settings, and her ability to take her readers on a spiral path to the innermost depths of an individual mind, and then back out again, make this a fascinating read.”
Strange Horizons

“The people of our time are recognizable in the people of Jackal’s, and though their technology is fiction to us, inner human strength triumphs over hardship, and good comes out of even the depths of madness. Jackal’s story resounds with more faith in character than is usual in future-noir.”
Booklist

“Eskridge’s first novel offers a dystopic vision of a near future in which virtual technology becomes a tool for societal control. Featuring a resourceful and engaging protagonist, this novel belongs in most sf collections and should appeal to readers of high-tech sf intrigue.”
— Library Journal

More

Kelley’s Big Idea: “I wrote Solitaire to explore the complicated landscape of alone. I found a character named Jackal who defines herself foremost in terms of her community and her connection to others; then I took all that away, and trapped her in the most alone place any of us can go – inside our own heads. Jackal ends up in virtual solitary confinement facing an utterly realistic experience of being locked in a cell for eight years. What happens to her there – her journey through alone – changes everything.”

Solitaire received a lovely thoughtful review on Eve’s Alexandria in response to “a very long discussion thread over at Torque Control — sparked by an interview with Tricia Sullivan — about why so little of the science fiction published in the UK these days is written by women.”

And John Mesjak says: “When I first read the manuscript of this reissue edition, I was just blown away. There are three distinct sections to the book, and each one has its own flavor and energy – all adding up to a dark but wonderfully described future. It was absolutely one of my favorite novels from the Fall 2010 Consortium catalog.”

“In a certain way, Solitaire is ahead of its time. It’s a title that old, conventional marketing will tell you won’t sell: it features a multicultural, non-white, female protagonist who happens to be a lesbian; the author is telling us the details rather than showing us; it’s a science fiction concept within a science fiction concept. Yet it is for these reasons that the book succeeds.”
—Charles Tan, Bibliophile Stalker

Read Chapter One

So here she was, framed in the open double doors like a photograph: Jackal Segura on the worst day of her life, preparing to join the party. The room splayed wide before her, swollen with voices, music, human heat, and she thought perhaps this was a bad idea after all. But she was conscious of the picture she made, backlit in gold by the autumn afternoon sun, standing square, taking up space. A good entrance, casually dramatic. People were already noticing, smiling; there’s our Jackal being herself. There’s our Hope. It shamed her, now that she knew it was a lie.

Read the first chapter here.

Kelley Eskridge is a novelist, essayist, and screenwriter. Her stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies in the United States, Europe, Australia and Japan, won the Astraea Award and been finalists for the Nebula and James Tiptree awards. Her collection Dangerous Space was published by Aqueduct Press. Her story “Alien Jane” was adapted for television and a film adaptation of Solitaire titled OtherLife is in production by Cherry Road Films. She lives in Seattle with her partner, novelist Nicola Griffith.

Cover photos: iStockphoto.com.
Cover design: Frances Lassor.
Author photo: Jennifer Durham.



Solitaire’s here

Tue 11 Jan 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal. | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

SolitaireIt was a lovely day at the office the other day when Kelley Eskridge’s debut novel, Solitaire, arrived from the printer—here we are in the second week of 2011 and our first book is in. (I don’t think we’ll be able to keep up that pace.)

I loved Solitaire when it was originally published in 2002—as you can see, since I reviewed it for BookPage:

In solitude, there is nowhere to hide, and Jackal is forced to face herself again and again, exploring her connections to the world, her family and friends.
Solitaire is a novel of our time: a story of dashed expectations and corporate manipulations. Eskridge explores what it means to really see ourselves, and what we are ultimately capable of. Jackal, a slight adolescent, matures into an adult capable of living well, no matter what her circumstances. She is a worthy role model for any reader.

Solitaire stuck with me over the years. I recommended it and enjoyed reading Kelley’s short stories—as well as meeting her and Nicola when Kelly and I went out to Seattle for Kelly to teach at Clarion West. When Kelley’s agent, Shawna McCarthy asked if we were interested in publishing Solitaire again, it was one of the easier decisions of the day.

One of the things I wanted to try was to bring the book to a slightly different audience. Eos did a great job of publishing the novel—it was a finalist for the Nebula, Locus, Endeavor, and Gaylactic Spectrum Awards, as well as a Borders Original Voices selection and a New York Times Notable Book. Quite the mouthful and not bad for a first novel!

But—there has to be a but, otherwise I wouldn’t have wanted to take another shot at publishing the book—there are people such as John Mesjak, one of our fabulous indie sales reps who had never heard of Solitaire and he loved it. I know there’s an audience for smart, different science fiction like this. Some of those readers identify as science fiction readers and/or fans, and some don’t think about genres, they’re just looking for another good book. So if you can spread the word to help us reach readers from either of those groups we’d surely appreciate it! We haven’t published much actual science fiction in our 10 years or so (that will change with our Geoff Ryman reprints and with two autumn 2011 books—but more on those later) and anything you can do to help will help us publish more of the good stuff.

Solitaire will be in your local bookstore soon: our suggestions include Broadside Books, Brookline Booksmith, Harvard Bookstore, University Bookstore, Food for Thought, Greenlight, Powell’s, Politics and Prose, and so on. You know the drill. You can either pay the salaries of your local UPS delivery person or you can support one of the many excellent bookstores employing smart people to bring you good books. Obviously we’d love it if you bought our books from one of them!

Of course, it’s also available directly from us—and we thank you for your support! The ebook is available instantly and without any wait or fuss in DRM-free PDF, epub, lit, and mobi formats at Weightless Books, and this month it’s on sale at the introductory price of only $6.95.

Whether you buy it, borrow it from the library, snag it from a friend, or download it directly to your brain pan, I hope you enjoy it and as always we’d love to hear what you think of it.