February Goals

For a while now I’ve been struggling with revisions of stories. I seem to have no problem writing new stories, and working on novels has been going well lately. But old stories which have gone through the critiquing process – either with Altered Fluid or at Clarion West – have given me pause. I’ve resisted diving back into them, and when I do, I often feel like I don’t know what to do.

I’ve thought a lot about the reasons for this and I think it comes down to fear of breaking them. Most of these stories have something that I like in them. These tend to be my most recent stories, stories that have received better feedback and I think there’s a fear there about taking away what makes them special, of losing something – the voice, the energy, the freshness. But, as we all know, fear is the mind-killer. It’s preventing me getting these stories, stories that I think are some of my best, out into the world.

So, my goal for February is to work on revising some of these stories. I’ll be conservative and say I’ll revise (to a point where I can submit them) three stories. I’m going to shoot for five, though. It’s a short month and there are birthday celebrations and other things going on, but I’m going to commit to this. When I have more stories circulating, then I can feel better about diving back into the novels (not that they’re going to be ignored).

Do other people out there ever have this problem with revising?

The Night Jeffrey Ford Read in Greenpoint

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing one of my favorite living authors, Jeffrey Ford, read at the WORD Bookstore in Greenpoint. Jeff’s stories are surreal, funny, poignant and personal to use just a few adjectives, and always entertaining. Last night was no exception. He read a story called “The Double of My Double is Not My Double”. The story is new and, I believe, unpublished. That’s one of the great things about Jeff’s readings – you usually end up with something you’ve never heard (or read) before. I think Jeff’s one of the finest short story writers I’ve ever encountered and if you’re interested in short stories as either a reader or a writer, you must check out some of his fine fiction. You can read some of them for free here, here, and here. Also here. Or you can hear me reading two of his stories at Podcastle – The Dreaming Wind and The Annals of Eelin-Ok.

Also reading last night was Felix Gilman who read part of a short story set in the same world as his most recent novel (which I’m dying to read), The Half-Made World. What I heard of “Lightbringers and Rainmakers” sounded great and the whole thing is available to read (for free) on Tor.com.

Which brings me just to one point. WORD has this thing, particularly for this Wold Newton series of readings, where they have musical accompaniment with the readers. It’s an interesting concept, but one I find ultimately problematic. While the band is great, and the music a pleasure to listen to, I find that it often competes with the author’s reading and, the way my brain works, I have to fight to focus on the words rather than the music. Last night, Jeff managed to be heard throughout his reading, but Felix, who is more softspoken, sometimes seemed drowned out. I wouldn’t have them ditch the music completely, but I think it would be used more effectively to intro and outro the readers and perhaps as people are coming in and in-between readers. Otherwise I, at least, find it to be somewhat distracting.

Afterward, we moved over to the nearby Lulu’s for a beer. I have to admit to being pleasantly surprised by the place. It’s a comfy, dark yet somehow elegant bar with a decent beer selection and with each drink you order after 6, you get a free pizza. I paid five bucks for a Captain Lawrence Smoked Porter, which I enjoyed, expecting a wilted, cardboardy slice of pizza to accompany it. Instead I got a fairly decent mini-pie that filled me up completely.  I have to admit to now being a fan of the place and I will certainly return.

All in all, quite a wonderful night.

Falling Sky – Out now!


Falling Sky, my first novel, came out October 7, 2014 from Pyr. It's an adventure story set in a post-apocalyptic future with airships. Publisher's Weekly called it a "solid and memorable debut" while Library Journal gave it a starred review and named it Debut of the Month. For more information, please click here.

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