pameladean: (Libellula julia)
I'm thinking of starting a Patreon. I know, all the cool kids have done so already, but I am still thinking about it. For good or ill, that is how I roll.

David has supported my writing career since 1981. I have in fact made money from writing, and it came in very handy for any number of things. But after Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary was published in 1998, I didn't sell any more novels. I wrote a synopsis and the first few chapters of a Liavek novel and submitted it to Tor, which rejected it. Then Harry Potter became a sensation, and Sharyn November started the Firebird line at Viking/Penguin and bought up and reissued much of my backlist. She also bought a new novel called Going North. Briefly, I turned the book in late and too long. It was suggested that I expand it into two volumes, which I did; but at that point two-volume fantasy novels were not doing well, so I was asked, and perhaps unwisely agreed, to try and shrink the even-longer revision back down to 100,000 words. This did not go well at all.

Going North was cancelled in 2012, and then took a very long time to be pried loose from the publisher that no longer wanted it. In the meantime, I worked on the Liavek novel and on a number of pieces of short fiction, none of which is as yet finished. I don't work fast, but I have been working. Last year, Patricia Wrede and I put together a collection of our Liavek stories from the original anthologies, added a story Pat had written that never got into any of the anthologies, newly-revised; and also added a brand-new collaborative story about some of the background of our characters and their ancestral connection. This was published by Diversion Books as Points of Departure. Diversion Books did a lovely job on the cover and editing and the entire project was very gratifying. Unsurprisingly, however, it did not really solve our financial problems.

In the meantime, the market for the kind of work David does has been evolving; and we've been limping from crisis to crisis and having a hard time making ends meet. The house has accumulated a lot of deferred maintenance. Once I got the rights to Going North back, I approached various agents with it, but none of them wanted to represent it. I am also, honestly, a bit out of patience with conventional publishing.

In response to this lack of patience, David and I recently started Blaisdell Press and reissued Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary and The Dubious Hills. We are also going to reissue "Owlswater," a Secret Country novella originally published in Jane Yolen's Xanadu series. But reissues aren't enough. We fully plan to publish the new novel. However, it needs to be revised and expanded again from the state I got it into trying to reduce it to the contractually mandated 100,0000 words; and I haven't been able to settle to this properly because I am so worried about money and the state of the house. Also, with timing I will not dignify by describing it, I was just diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. This is stressful, time-consuming, and, even with insurance, expensive.

I am having a very hard time working. If I could generate some income, it would be much easier for me to concentrate as I need to, and we might be able to begin fixing things that need fixing, as well as continuing to pay our share of the mortgage and our health insurance premiums, buy groceries, and so on.

I know that many people write far more than I do while they too are dealing with chronic illness, day jobs, and other very pressing problems. But I write as fast as I write. What I have is this: these are my stories. Nobody else can tell them.

David continues to look for work and to do it when he gets it. He'll be teaching a course this fall, but that doesn't pay as much as it ought to.

I haven't thought through the levels yet, but among the things I am considering offering are such diverse elements as:

Scenes from the short stories I'm working on. These include one about wish-granting merpeople and one about astronomical werewolves. The latter is a result of having removed entire characters wholesale from Going North. There are several others too inchoate for an easy description.

Chapters from the Liavek novel. This takes place after the events of the last Liavek collection, and is about the theater.

Videos of me reading snippets of the offered passages.

Videos of me answering questions that supporters of the Patreon send in.

Cat pictures, of course. Possibly cat videos, though this depends more than photos do on the actual cooperation of the cats.

Chapters of the original very long and extremely opaque Going North.

Chapters of the even longer and still somewhat opaque two-volume version of Going North.

Posts about the process of revising the latest version of Going North, which will be sometimes subtle, but not actually opaque.

If there's actual interest, vegan and veganizable recipes I have made, with commentary. (I eat a diet that is mostly vegan but does encompass fish and occasionally sheep- or goats-milk cheese, but I have recipes for cheese substitutes, and some fish recipes work nicely with tofu.)

I'd like to say garden photos and essays, but the yard is one of the things that needs fixing. Well, there's certainly a lot of it and it does have a lot of things growing in it, as well as birds and dragonflies and bees and so on. So, I suppose, if there was interest in an ex-garden, or a garden that needs to be rehabilitated, it would be fairly easy to write about what's out there.

I know that some of you don't like dealing with unfinished work, or waiting a long time for something you've had a taste of. I will do the best I can not to be more dilatory than necessary.

What do you guys think? Is there anything else you'd like to see, in addition or instead?

Thanks very much.

pameladean: (Libellula julia)
I have, not exactly in my hand right now, but very near by, and honestly I think I might sleep with it under my pillow, the termination paperwork for The Dubious Hills AND the cancelled and as-yet unpublished sequel to Hills, that is, the work sometimes known as Going North.

This has been imminent for some weeks now and I have been trying to figure out what to do. I will let you guys know as soon as I have.

What I can say is that Going North needs to be re-expanded, not to its former two-volume length, but by perhaps 20,000 words; that probably not all of them will be words that I have already written; and that I am very well, indeed painfully, aware that people have been waiting for far, far too long for this book; so I will do my best to be expeditious.

One might well ask why I didn't do the revisions while I was awaiting the paperwork, but I can only say that they had not come properly into focus, and in fact I needed to write a short story first to get things to line up or clear up or whatever this analogy thinks it is doing just now. I would apologize for my creative process, but that wouldn't make it any less annoying.

pameladean: (Default)
I don't know why I'm so thoroughly out of the habit of posting. One of the things I like about reading my friends-list is the combination of homely everyday detail and really chewy intellectual posts. I am not very good at making the latter -- I start them, revise them, get bogged down in some detail of nuance or research, and eventually lose them somewhere. But I can do daily life.

The juncoes are here. I was concerned for a week or two that the Norway maples would not get a chance to turn yellow, instead dropping their leaves madly while still green; but they have managed, and if I walk to the end of my block and look back, there is the proper tunnel of gold, leaves drifting down onto the black asphalt of the street. They are not mallorns, and there is certainly no asphalt in Lothlorien, but the effect seems Tolkienesque in any case.

It was a peculiar summer in many ways. As I mentioned at the time, I cracked or bruised a rib at the end of April, and just when that was healing up nicely I got the Wiscon Death Cold and coughed for five or six weeks. While I put in basil, mint, thyme, and two tomato plants much earlier than I had managed in 2010, only the herbs thrived. I forgot about the thyme and have not used it for anything. David and Lydy kept the mint well pruned by harvesting it for their drinks, and it is probably going to take over the world next year. Eric and I were going to make spring rolls using the fresh mint and basil, but we never did. The basil is unhappy with the frost or near-freezes we've been having at night, but the mint and thyme are still looking fresh and happy. I should put some thyme in the soup this evening. We had a pot of rosemary on the front porch, too, and I did make good use of that; but I failed to bring it inside the first night temperatures threatened to go below freezing, and it gave up and died.

Raphael and I did fairly well with hiking, under the circumstances -- my rib injury and the horrible virus from Wiscon weren't the half of it. June was cold and rainy; then Minnesota Republicans forced the shut-down of the government because they have an insane desire to control women and oppress poor people, so the state parks closed on July 1. Raphael and I were up on the North Shore at the time, at Temperance River State Park. The park, I think like most of the parks thereabouts, is divided by Highway 61. We started with the lake side. When we went out to the lake, there were no notices. When we came back, all over were simple printed pages saying that the park was closed. We went across the highway and up the river anyway. We were there because somebody in the 1990's had seen boreal snaketails in the powerline clearance. They did not appear, but the river and its rocky surrounds were spectacular. The powerline clearance runs over a tilted slab of basalt, broken up by water, scattered with patches of thin sand shading to soil in which hawkweed and other wildflowers grow, with here and there a juniper or an aspen sapling. A young deer with just the velvet stubs of antlers wandered out of the woods beyond the clearance and set about grazing. He knew we were there, but he did not give us any wide-eyed paranoid looks, did not freeze and think about running. He looked us in the eye, swaggered, and ignored us. His dignity was upset, however, by the fact that his antlers obviously itched. He had to stop from time to time and scratch them with a hind leg, which was both impressive and hilarious.

We had planned to stop at Gooseberry Falls and Split Rock on our way back south, on the grounds that the parks would still be in perfectly good order even though officially close. However, both parks include rest areas that had been blocked off with barricades, so we had to give up, cursing the Republicans in the legislature. Even if they had behaved like reasonable beings, the closure of St. Croix State Park would have distorted our hiking year. We did have several excellent visits to Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge.

Eric was working night shift until July, and then a classic mid-continental heat wave moved in, so we didn't do any hiking until much later in the year. We made one road trip to look at fall color, staying in LaCrosse but spending much of our time at Great River Bluffs State Park. We did also visit Perrot, avoiding any bluffs this year but hiking along the Riverview trail, where we saw an egret sitting atop a muskrat lodge; and also along the Black Walnut Trail, which was more hilly than we expected but full of goodness, including the biggest black walnut tree either of us had ever seen.

Writing has been frankly terrible. I don't even want to try to come up with the number of words I've written. I certainly don't need even the fingers of one hand to do so. I'm feeling a little cheerier since I did a reading of the new second chapter of the Amazing Expanding and Shrinking Novel at Conjecture -- many thanks to Laura Krentz for asking me. It was useful to see that the new structure actually worked rather than being a heap of disassembled incidents bunged together with semi-colons. I'm looking at my present projects with somewhat more equanimity, at least.

Aristophanes, although bony, seems to be thriving. A failed attempt to remove a mat from his belly us to the emergency vet late on the day before I was to go to Wisconsin with Eric. They were very nice to us, calling the wound a grooming injury, as if he had done it himself; I guess some cats do damage themselves yanking out mats. The vet tech who brought him back to us also exclaimed, "You guys, he's in such good shape for his age! You must take very good care of him!" He had to have ten days' worth of antibiotics, which Raphael heroically put down his throat; and he had to wear a blue cone, which he bore with great insouciance, much to my surprise. He did have epic grooming sessions when it was taken off though. He seems fine now. When I take him out for walks, he mostly patrols his yard, sniffing carefully, and then goes back in. But a few days ago he tore across the front yard to the maple on the boulevard, ran six or seven feet up its trunk, dropped down, tore through the side yard to the back and all the way to the garage, tore back to his favorite mulberry and ran up that, and then tore to the back door and pawed at it to be let in. I must have been a very funny sight, lumbering after him fast enough that the leash was never taut but quietly enough that he wouldn't take fright at the MONSTER FOLLOWING HIM.

I'm rereading the Aubrey/Maturin books, finding all much better than I remember. This is especially gratifying for the volumes after The Thirteen-Gun Salute, though I still expect to be very annoyed with O'Brien for one or two things nearer the end.

I am reading all of you, but I tend to forget that I actually can comment now, Opera's update having apparently fixed my problem with LJ. I'll try to provide more blather soon.

pameladean: (Default)
I haven't been posting much because, after a brief moment just after LJ struggled to its feet again in the wake of the latest DDOS attack, when everything seemed to work, LJ is again failing to play nicely with Opera. I can type in entries till I'm blue, but neither the Preview button nor the Post button works. If I click on the link in an emailed comment notification, I can type merrily away in the comment box thus provided, but the Post and Preview buttons do not work. If I attempt to comment directly on a journal, sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes I can comment on a journal, and if I go back to answer a response, suddenly I can't comment any more. Some journals seem permanently barred ([ profile] karenkay, I would pester you a lot more if I could). LJ Support heroically worked on the problem during the DDOS attack, but told me they had been unable to reproduce my difficulty with several different versions of Opera.

I'm using Firefox to post this.

I don't know why I don't just switch to Firefox, aside from a less than healthy hatred of unfamiliar things in my working environment. I think some deep part of my brain, faced with the fact that a particular website does not work with Opera, decides "Forget that website!" rather than "Forget Opera!"

Oh, and I can't post to or comment on Google+, either. Well, I could, but only if I didn't put spaces between words. This would give my comments an interesting flavor of very old classical manuscript, but seems unproductive in the long run. In any case, I'm unimpressed with Google's handling of its insane insistence on real names.

However, I do have some good news. I heard back from [ profile] sdn, my fabulous editor. She does not hate the book! It needs more cutting and tightening, as I knew when I sent it off, and hence has been moved from Fall of 2012 to Spring of 2013. This is not, I understand, good news to people who are still actually waiting for the book rather than having found authors who write regularly and don't end up expanding and shrinking their novels as if they were variable stars, but it's good news for me. The book would have needed to be in copy-edit by November if it were to be published in the fall of next year, and now it doesn't have to be in that enviable state until March. Breathing room to make revisions -- with any luck at all, the last revisions this unfortunate composition will need to suffer -- will be useful.

I should make posts about this summer's hiking and about books I've read, but we'll see.

I am reading you all, and I rejoice at your triumphs and am saddened by your sorrows and laugh at your jokes.

pameladean: (Default)
I'm very pleased to have this almost two weeks before the convention, especially in the case of the reading.

Pamela Dean Reading - 2:00PM Saturday - Veranda 1

Ask A Writer - 4:00PM Saturday - Veranda 2
Always wanted to know how a novel is born? How does a writer structure their day? Is it all glittering parties and intelligent company? Come ask a panel of working writers anything!
Panelists: Michael Merriam (M), Jane Yolen, Pamela Dean

Building A World With History - 1:00PM Sunday - Krushenko’s
Nothing springs to life fully formed. How does history affect cultures, and how can this be used in creating strong stories in strong settings?
Panelists: Rachel Kronick (M), Jane Yolen, Pamela Dean, Ruth Berman

Thank you for participating in Minicon Programming. All panelists are encouraged to meet with other panelists in the programming Green Room before their panel. The programming green room is Cabana 201.

I haven't figured out what I'm reading yet. Last year I did some stuff that got cut from the Amazing Expanding and Shrinking Novel; this year I ought probably to read something that remained in it, but even the early chapters are full of spoilers for other books.

pameladean: (Default)
I had meant to mention, my book is due on October 15th, and that is a real deadline. I am really not sure if I'll be about as quiet as usual or post madly when I get stuck. I sometimes think that I should have gotten something like a garden-design program for this book so that I could stick things here and there to see how they looked before committing to any given order of events. I think I have only one more major alteration to make before the end. I think.

pameladean: (Default)
Raphael and I have been on a number of lovely hikes that I haven't written up.

Eric and I went to Duluth for three days and had a glorious time looking at waterfalls and swimming in Lake Superior, and a less glorious one losing the car key on the beach and having to wait for a locksmith while beset with biting flies. is having a kind of slow-motion panel discussion of Robert Heinlein in the context of a new biography by William Patterson, Learning Curve. This first volume covers Heinlein's life through 1949; another volume will appear later. It's full of lovely tidbits, but so detailed that absorbing it is a slow process. I am blogging over there in the terrifyingly stellar company of Sarah Hoyt, John Scalzi, Charlie Stross, Mitch Wagner, and Jo Walton. Things have slowed down quite a bit over the weekend, so there's a chance to catch up on the discussion, if it's the kind of thing that interests you. I had a couple of half-written posts that more or less got scooped by my swifter, more experienced fellow bloggers, but I hope to manage another one before the week-long panel is over. In the meantime I'm enjoying the lessons on how it's done.

My camera died sometime between last week and when I got it out to photograph waterfalls. It turns out that David got a good deal on it, and replacing it will cost more than I feel comfortable spending until I turn my book in, so I am sulking a little. However, David will lend me his own low-end camera for any special occasions, if I remember to ask for it.

Aristophanes is flourishing, to my great relief.

The revisions continue less arduous than before, but quite seriously pesky just the same. I am presently assembling Chapter 18 from stone knives and bearskins.

My best to you all; I am trying to catch up with everybody else's doings.

pameladean: (Default)
This year Fourth Street left room to drag people onto panels at the last moment. I had an hour and a half's warning of the first one, but missed completely the moment when I was put on the Sunday afternoon panel about how you know when to stop revising. [ profile] skzb reasonably felt that, given the situation my book and I are in, I should be on this panel. I didn't have any preparation time at all, however. Furthermore, everybody else was talking about revision driven by the writer or at most by beta readers. What I had to say about that wasn't really different from what the other panelists [ profile] truepenny, [ profile] matociquala, and [ profile] skzb himself) had to say.

Unfortunately, at the time I was in the foggy, foggy middle of formulating what was making me most uneasy about the project of cutting the 375,000 words of Going North and Abiding Reflection down to 100,000 words. I was over being grieved that I had to remove half a dozen characters, and had at least become calloused to cutting a lot of scenes that I loved madly and wanted other people to read. But I hadn't yet realized what was still making me twitchy. I kept thinking, though I didn't think of saying this on the panel, because I don't do well in realtime, that what I needed was to recognize at what point the book was no longer like a book that I would write. This isn't very useful advice to beginning writers in any case, because they don't know yet what the books they will write are going to look like. Every time I cut down a description, or removed a convoluted section of dialogue, or started with the action rather than moving into it crabwise, I would wonder if I had reached the point where the book didn't sound like me. I've always tried to keep all of such tendencies under control, not wanting a book entirely composed of them, but I thought I could go too far.

The problem was elsewhere, though. It was thematic. This book is about a lot of things, but among the ones I am aware of are such diverse elements as family, whether chosen or biological, and in particular mother-daughter relationships; identity, including both disguise and misidentification, and in general the matter of what I've heard Graydon describe as "being present as oneself in the world"; how community is formed and maintained; how romantic relationships are formed and maintained; and how all smaller relationships fit into communities. I just deleted a long conversation between Frances and Arry about why they never visited Arry's paternal grandmother. It's not directly pertinent to the plot, though it acts indirectly on the plot by informing Arry's actions. Her actions are somewhat overdetermined anyway, so that wasn't an issue, but I suddenly saw through the overt structure of the book and into the thematic underlayer and became seriously worried that I was doing a lot of damage to it. I manage that layer primarily by intuition rather than painstakingly thinking it out as I do plot (such as my plots are), and I felt that I might have done something crazy that would result in an earthquake.

I guess we'll see.

pameladean: (Default)
Well, that's a rather grim subject line, but on its own it feels like what I'm doing with the book. After a long hiatus and a lot of hair-tearing, I opened up one of the files and revised Chapter 2 to have more tension in it. I have not yet attempted to gaze into the abyss that is the fallen middle of the narrative, but I hope to do that tomorrow.

In other news, Raphael and I have been thwarted two weeks in a row in our plans to go to Itasca, because the weather has been impossible. We will try again after Fourth Street. In the jungle of the yard and garden, the dame's rocket is almost done, the spiderwort and daisy fleabane and Shasta daisies are blooming, the rudbeckia is thinking things over, and the phlox is growing very tall but not budding yet. The volunteer milkweed is in bud, as are the true and the day- lilies. The peonies were slain quickly by heat followed by rain, but there were certainly a lot of them while they did bloom.

The snow peas are blooming, and the sugar snap peas are thinking about it. The snow peas are supposed to be bush peas and to need no support, but they are climbing the dame's rocket at the edge of the raised bed just the same. I have lots of lettuce. The spinach bolted while I was at Wiscon (see aforementioned heat), but remaining leaves are not bitter. My mother and I are going to Mother Earth Gardens tomorrow to get some tomato plants.



pameladean: (Default)

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