Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Birthday Stuff

Yesterday was my wife's birthday. There were a number of presents involved, but two of the nicest came from our kids. Maya produced the following original card:

Not to be outdone, Sage produced an original story. For your reading pleasure, the text:

Gudrun the Fair Isle Fairy
-a birthday story by Sage Anthony Durham

Gudrun raced through the woods, feet flying over the hard earth. Her bare soles crunched the leaves of fall beneath them, but she didn’t even hear them. All she could think about was getting to the otter. She didn’t know why but she knew she had to get to it. She had a bad feeling. And when she had bad feelings it meant something. Maybe the birth had gone wrong. The otter wasn’t due for another month, but…

Oh, she just ran. Good thing she had her trainers and spin gear on. Suddenly she was slipping and sliding down the stones toward the beach. Sure enough the otter had given birth. The pups were sooo cute. Small and lovely, eyes closed and looking like the best things ever. But… something was definitely wrong. She could see it in the mother otter’s eyes and hear it in her breath and feel it in her heart beat.

And then she knew. The otter pups were too small. Of course! It was a really early birth so the pups wouldn’t have nearly enough fat to stay warm in the North Atlantic. But that wasn’t all. They were cool to the touch, not warm like new pups should be. They needed to be heated up and soon. The sun was sinking into the hills and in the east a raucous gathering of clouds promised a storm. There was going to be weather, no doubt.

 Gudrun looked around. The landscape, bare and craggy and beautiful as it was, offered no help. Not a person to be seen. It was all on her. She inhaled. All on her. Nobody watching. That was bad, but it also meant one good thing...

With no witnesses, Gudrun pulled her knitting needles from the quiver on her back. Quick as an Elfen archer, she began to work her magic. She reached up and snatched at the last golden rays of the setting sun. The staccato click of her needles snapped away on the wind, but she didn’t falter. She wove the sunlight into glimmering yarn.

And she knitted. Oh, she knitted. This was her magic, something only she could do.

She worked fast, as was her style. When she was done the pups were snuggled up in warm gold hats, cardigans, scarves and pants; all of them pulsing with sunlight. Gudrun was content that the pups would live and grow up to be big and healthy, for they were covered in the magic of a Fair Isle fairy, a rare, secret breed, one of the last of the species.

 That day, feeling young and fit and in control of herself and her skills and her meaning in the world, Gudrun set off to look for other animals in need. She helped forty animals that day and saved forty lives. Next year, she’d aim to help forty-one.

Better with age, of course.

More magical.

(Not bad, huh?)

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Thursday, February 06, 2014

Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror

Pleased to point you toward a new craft/writing exercise book that's coming out later this month.

It's the latest edition of the Now Write! series, focusing on SFF this time around. I'm one of the contributors. Only one, though, as there's a long list of distinguished folks involved. I'm just pleased to be one of them.

Check it out HERE.

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Friday, January 31, 2014

Clarion 2014

You know I dig Stonecoast and think it's an awesome program for anyone that wants a Master of Fine Arts but that happens to be writing speculative fiction. It's a big commitment, though. What about a program that's shorter, tighter? I have a favorite for that as well: The Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshops.

I didn't attend as a student, but I did have the pleasure of teaching there a few years back. Great experience. An intense experience for the students, no doubt, but well worth it. It's competitive, but if you get in you're thrown together with around twenty other talented writers. Six weeks at the lovely University of California at San Diego campus. Each week a new instructor comes in to run the workshops. Each week you produce a new story. Much awesomeness transpires. If you look at the website alumni page you'll see a whose who of SFF stars. I'm not kidding.

A sampling of alums: Tobias Buckell, Octavia Butler, Ted Chiang, Cory Doctorow, Nalo Hopkinson, James Patrick Kelly, Kelly Link, Marjorie Liu, Kim Stanley Robinson, just to drop a few names. And of instructors: Steven Barnes, Holly Black, Orson Scott Card, Robert Crais, Ellen Datlow, Samuel R. Delany, Tananarive Due, Karen Joy Fowler, Neil Gaiman, Joe and Gay Haldeman, Elizabeth Hand, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Kij Johnson, Jonathan Lethem, George R. R. Martin, Tim Powers, John Scalzi, Delia Sherman Dean, Connie Willis, Gene Wolfe and, okay, I've got to stop... But the list goes on!

By the end of the six weeks you not only are on first name basis with some of the top writers in the genre, you've also got a bunch of new friends and colleagues. I really think it's a terrific program. I'm saying so now because the application period is in full swing. If the prospect of such a program interests you at all, please go check the website out and consider making the jump to sending in an application. I reckon some of the folks that went through the program would mark it as a career-making moment in their lives. Just saying. And the faculty this year is awesome! They are every year. I never fail to be impressed - and a bit jealous of the students that get to hang out with these folks in the eucalyptus scented air of Southern Cali.

Oh, and you get to go to San Diego Comic-Con on the side. No kidding.

Here's some of the official blurbage:

Applications for the 2014 Clarion Workshop are now open and will remain open until March 1, 2014.  If you've been thinking about applying, now's the time.  On February 15th, the application fee will increase from $50 to $65.  Just our way of encouraging applicants to finish sooner rather than later.  We've got a wonderful faculty anxious to share the secrets of great writing with a new class of promising students, one of whom might be you!  Let Gregory Frost, Geoff Ryman, Catherynne Valente, N.K. Jemisin, Ann VanderMeer, and Jeff VanderMeer give you the rocket fuel to power your career.

If you're accepted, we'll do our best to make it possible for you to attend.  Thanks to Clarion's friends and supporters, there is scholarship money for those who need it. In addition to general scholarships, there are special grants for students of color, students age 40 and older, students who are affiliated with Michigan State University, and students who are affiliated with UCSD.

Website is HERE!

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Gudrun's Got A Creative Bug

The famous Shetland Trader knitwear designer is at again. A new thing this time. She's gone video!

Gudrun's first Creative Bug knitting video is live now. It's an instructional video for a lovely lace cardigan. Got knitting? You might want to give a look, then. Personal tutelage and all that. Lots of explanations and details.

The shooting of the video was quite a thing. They flew Gudrun out to San Francisco for the better part of a week to shoot several different projects. This first one was the most complicated in that during the filming they had to work backwards, ripping out stitches and essentially unmaking the cardigan in the process. But in the video everything's been rearranged. A bit mind bending, but it worked!

The other cool thing is that they do a short (free) intro video about each designer. For Gudrun's they sent a guy out to film in our home and environs for an entire day. Out of all of that he edited down to a few minutes. If you want a glimpse of where we live and what sort of stuff we get up to (walking the dog and crazy things like that) take a look.

The clip is HERE.

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Two Wild Cards related things...

One is that after a long time sitting on it, I think I can finally display the cover art for the forthcoming Wild Card novel, Lowball. What gives me particular pleasure is that my character, Marcus Morgan (aka The Infamous Black Tongue), is featured on the cover! The kid owns it.

Check it out:
It sill needs all the covery-bits added, but that's the image. Love it. You know what's even better? My son Sage was instrumental in creating this character. To hear him tell it, he did create the character. Don't believe it for a minute. ;)

The artist is Michael Kormack. Check out his work HERE.

The reason I think it's okay to show this now is that George RR Martin has it up on his website. He's using it to illustrate the page with an excerpt from Lowball. And you know what's even better than that? The excerpt is from my multi-part story, "Those About to Die..." Awesome. In all likelihood it'll be on GRRM's site for ages, since the next book - the last in this trilogy - won't be out for a while yet. I'm going to be in that one too. Actually, I'm working like crazy to deliver my contribution by the end of this month. Wish me luck on that, please.

Anyway, should you want to check out the excerpt, it's available HERE.

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Maya's Latest

This is an Instagram snap taken of my daughter, Maya's, latest portrait. The color tone is a bit different than the original, but the image is the image.

Edinburgh Art College. She's got you in her sights!

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Post Stonecoast

I'm back from a lovely Stonecoast residency in Southern Maine!

Ten days a fatigued joy. Lots of great people. Writing and talking and laughing and enough social interaction to hold me for the next six months. I've got a great roster of mentees to work with over the coming months. All good. I didn't even come down with the funky flu that slammed me at the end of the last winter residency!

I'm sure I've said it before, but any writers out there that are hankering for a supportive, hardworking gang of fellow scribes - and maybe wanting to pick up a higher degree in the process - should give the Stonecoast MFA a look. And if you're a genre fiction writer interested in earning an MFA look no further! Just go to the website and check out our faculty, our accommodations, our alum success stories, our residency structure, etc.

Honestly, I think very highly of the place and I'm glad they keep letting me come back. Since 2005 you know!

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Monday, December 02, 2013

Eating Authors

Scary title, huh? Fortunately, it's not as sinister as it might sound.

Eating Authors is a series on author Lawrence Schoen's blog wherein he asks guests to speak about a memorable meal. He asked me me recently, and I came up with what I hope is a unique spin on it. A little bit of live seafood plucked from Shetland's craggy seaside...
I've included a photo of Sage since he features prominently in the tale.

If you're interested you can read about it HERE!

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Friday, November 22, 2013

Good Lord Bird

I'm thrilled to hear that James McBride's new novel, The Good Lord Bird just won the National Book Award! I've always thought he was a terrific fiction writer that didn't quite get his due from the literary establishment.

Miracle at St. Anna (Movie Tie-in) was a good read, an intricate novel of WW2 seen through the eyes of African-American soldiers. I didn't feel the Spike Lee movie did it justice, but I was still happy to see it get made.

Song Yet Sung, his second novel, was wonderful too. Historical again, but with a touch of prophecy and magic. I reviewed it for the Washington Post.

I really enjoyed The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother, his first nonfiction book. It was quite a touching autobiographical work. That one sold a bunch of copies and still does.

That's great, but it's got to be super-great to win the National Book Award, coming out on top of a rather impressive list of candidates. I haven't read it yet, but I know to expect good things.
Congrats, Mr. McBride.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Mind Meld

SF Signal has a Mind Meld post up about: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Genre Series: Series vs. Standalones; Ones We Abandoned; Ones We Returned To.

This is wherein several authors/critics respond to the topic prompt. I'm pleased to have had it pointed out (thanks Zach) that the Acacia Trilogy got three mentions - and some further chat in the comments! What nice people...

You can read their thoughts HERE.

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