fiction first look novella Rahab SF spec fic The New People

M-Brane SF Double #1

Today was meant to be the release date for M-Brane SF Double #1, partly in honor of the birthday of Jeff Lund, who created the nifty cover art and who puts up with M-Brane publisher Chris Fletcher on a daily basis. Alas, the coincidence of a tiny glitch in the cover layout (not Jeff’s responsibility) and the long Memorial Day weekend has caused a delay. A week perhaps. Which may mean the pre-publication special is still open: the print Double plus a passel of electronic-form M-Brane merch, all for the low low price of $14.95. Why not head over to M-Brane Press and try?

Meanwhile, in my quixotic fashion, I will continue to claim 31 May 2011 as official pub date. And so, to welcome you into my half of the book, herewith the 1,300-word first chapter of my ~30,000-word novella.

The New People


1: Haven-city, Haven-archipelago: EJ 313 Zizdy 03

Running blind, he collided with somebody or something, stumbled, nearly fell, but kept running. The endless clamor in his ears was like surf magnified, roaring. Surely people were screaming, sirens wailing. The phone was out—even if he could have heard anything under the roar—a dead, cold weight on the bone of his jaw. The second time, he couldn’t keep his balance. Unseen paving rushed up to strike palms and knees, hard and hot. He rolled onto his shoulder. Something punched his side and he continued rolling until the low seawall stopped him. He kept blinking, trying to see, but there was only light. He felt the inarticulate grunts and moans in his throat but couldn’t hear them, couldn’t stop them. Pavement shuddered under his cheek as the tower continued to collapse. Shuddering himself, he lay there for what seemed like a very long time, arms crooked around his head, knees pulled up to protect his belly, panting, sobbing.

Eventually the throbs of light in his eyes began to slow and dim, though the dull roar continued in the bones of his skull. When he could distinguish the movements of his fingers, he sat up, leaning against the wall. The fog of brightness made everything hazy and flat. Nobody was running now but he saw people in the eye-burning yellow of Emergency Response moving against the backdrop of indistinct buildings. The façades glowed with a white clamor pierced by prisms of hot glass that made his eyes tear. Unless it was shock, fear, horror that made him cry.

They weren’t supposed to have, to use weapons. The new people, if that was what they called themselves. The manifesto spoke of reform, of change—not killing. He had wanted to join them, further their aims. They had bombed the nursery.

Pulling himself to his feet, he turned his back on the corniche and its buildings, placed his hands flat on the top of the seawall. Morning sun threatened to blind him again if he looked up. Below, the beach lay deserted, abandoned belongings forlorn on disturbed sands. Waves lapped unconcerned onto the sand, surf burst on the reef. Far across the water, the silvery ribbon of the elevator climbed from the horizon to pierce the zenith, longer than anything, taller than anything—immeasurably taller than the nursery spire before it fell. If he looked right, down the beach, only a little way, there would be débris where the tower had collapsed, broken on the sand. Débris. Bodies. Babies.

Madmen. Only madmen could deliberately kill babies.

Something touched his shoulder. He tried to shrug it off, but it was a hand that grasped hard and forced him to turn. The man in ER yellow was talking to him. “I can’t hear you,” he said, unsure whether he could be heard himself. “I don’t think I’m hurt badly but I can’t hear anything except—” The man seemed to be shaking his head. “I can’t see very well either.”

Wielding some medical implement, the man inspected his ears, then changed the setting to irradiate his eyes. That made him blink, but afterward his vision came clear. Ears remained blocked to any sound but the constant rumbling in his skull of the bomb’s aftershocks. The man held up a hand and he understood he was meant to count the fingers: “Three.… Two.… Four.… My name is Jafet. I arrived from Away last night—I’m on vacation. Do you need my ID?”

The man nodded.

Jafet reached for the lozenge on its chain around his neck, suddenly aware he hadn’t picked up his satchel when he fled the café. But it was ID the man wanted and he carried that on his person. Tugging it free, he handed it over, scarcely noticed the man slipping it into his journal’s aperture. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I need to sit down.”

Faltering, he reached behind to be sure of the wall and sat. Below the frayed hem of his sarong, ash and dust crusted his legs. There were scratches and streaks of muddy blood—the worst of it from his fall but some might be shrapnel. He lifted his hands: more scratches, more blood, more dirt, on palms and forearms.

Another hand appeared, returning his ID. Jafet took it and looked up. The man’s blinding coverall wasn’t dirty but creased and crumpled as if he’d pulled it on only a moment ago. His name was stitched across the breast in red, NISIM, above the municipal emblem. His face was blank with concern as he searched his pockets. Finding what he needed, he leaned over Jafet with a different tool, pressed it to the muscle and tendon of Jafet’s jaw where the phone was bonded to the bone. A thin, angry whine sliced through the roar in Jafet’s ears. He winced.

The man, Nisim, inspected his implement, made an adjustment, pressed it against Jafet’s jaw again. The whine modulated down to an easy, not unpleasant tone, then cut out. Nisim made another adjustment.

“Can you hear me now?”

Muffled and distorted by the continuing roar, the voice from the aether was nevertheless distinct. “Yes,” Jafet said.

“How close were you?”

“In the café.”

Nisim’s black eyes opened wide. “Judgment! And you got out before the rest of the building fell on you?”

Jafet shook his head. “I told you—I’m from Away. I’ve been running out of buildings since I could run. It’s like an instinct. I hope—”

In turn, Nisim grimaced. “Probably not. We know about typhoons in Haven, but typhoons give you warning, and you run inside. The nursery was typhoon proofed.”

“How…how many?”

“Too soon to tell.” Biting his lip, Nisim looked away. “Staff, expectant fathers, other visitors: a few hundred, probably. Most of the babies should survive if we can dig the bottles out fast enough. I should—”

Jafet took a breath. “Yes, you should. Now. I’ll be fine.” He took another breath. “Thank you for telling me about the babies.”

“The bottles are tough.” Nisim almost smiled. “Here.” He handed Jafet a foil sachet. “Put this on your scratches after you wash. If the tinnitus hasn’t faded by morning, or if anything else feels weird, get yourself to a clinic. My phone knows you now, so I’ll check in tomorrow.” He nodded, turned away, then looked back, a crooked grin ready to turn to tears. With a start, Jafet comprehended the young man’s astonishing beauty. “On behalf of the municipality,” Nisim said, “I apologize for your vacation being spoiled.” Then, trotting, he was away down the corniche.

What’s that supposed to mean, Jafet wanted to say. He was breathing hard again, nearly hyperventilating. He didn’t want to watch Nisim reach the ruins—the café where the waiter who’d served him, the cook who’d prepared his breakfast, the other customers must all have been crushed when the nursery behind and above collapsed and fell on them. He hadn’t authorized payment for his meal before fleeing. It was the second explosion that blinded him: he had paused for an instant, stupid, not twenty meters from the café doors, looked back, looked up. The slender spire of the nursery—first and largest nursery in the world—was moving, jerkily swaying. He knew it was designed to move, but not like that. At the top of the spire, the titanic sculpture gleamed and flashed as sunlight caught on its facets and curves: stylized father nurturing stylized son.

But then as he watched, the babe in his daddy’s arms flared blue-white like a little star, brighter than the sun, searing Jafet’s eyes before he could turn and run, before the concussive blast deafened him.

The first explosion had done the job—the second was merely symbol.

Jafet swallowed dry. Madmen. If it were the new people, he wanted nothing to do with them—he wanted them punished, however noble their aims. His hotel was half a kilometer up the corniche, an easy stroll. He started walking.

Intrigued? You might also want to look into issue #10 of M-Brane SF (November 2009), led off by “Jannicke’s Cat,” a novelette from two hundred fifty years earlier in the history of The New People’s planet; and M-Brane SF Quarterly #1 (October 2010), containing “Annie,” a short story roughly contemporaneous with “Jannicke’s Cat.”

Both those stories, along with The New People and much else, are meant one day to be folded into a volume of conventional-novel length. A Boy’s History of the World (working title) will be a sweeping sci-fi panorama of the extra-solar planet Rahab, from the foundational trauma of Eve’s judgment, when all the women began to die, to the first tentative recontact with a human universe containing two sexes.

That’s the plan, anyway. Logistics are complex. Watch this space for progress reports.

fiction short stories spec fic

mega congratulations

Last evening in New York (while I cowered under the blankets in Rhode Island: second week of persistent migraine aura), my friend Sandra McDonald (who wasn’t in attendance either) won the Lambda Literary Award for LGBT SF/Fantasy/Horror with her luscious, enigmatic, and spectacular collection Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories, which you should buy and read right fast if you haven’t already. If you don’t love it, you are no friend of mine.

Sandra’s was one of five titles on the (actually very long) Lammy short list with which I had some pre-publication involvement. I designed two of the Gay Erotica finalists—Tented, edited by Jerry L Wheeler; and A Twist of Grimm by William Holden—and one of the SF/F/H titles—Disturbed by Her Song by Tanith Lee, writing as and with Esther Garber and Judas Garbah. Less visibly, I copyedited/proofread Wilde Stories 2010, edited by Steve Berman, and Diana Comet. Naturally it was not possible for all of them to win. Nevertheless, I’m delighted the judges had the excellent taste to honor one of my two favorite books of last year.

Now you’ll have to excuse me: I have the MS of Sandra’s newest novel waiting to be read….

fiction novella Rahab SF spec fic The New People

tomorrow week

The M-Brane SF Double, comprising (as has been said before) my short novel The New People bound tête-bêche with Brandon Bell’s Elegant Threat, is very nearly a real thing—an object to be held in one’s hands, caressed, fondled…read. M-Brane mastermind Chris Fletcher just released an image of the almost final wraparound cover:

You still have a week to take advantage of the pre-order special and receive not just the physical Double but a veritable waterfall of other M-Brane fictions in electronic formats, all for the low, low price of $14.95. What are you waiting for?



open letter

Dear Writers:

Sure, the guidelines look a bit long and verbose, perhaps a tad precious. But still, how long can it take you to read 800 words? Please do so. Please preserve me from ever again having to write a sentence like this: Your description of ______ makes clear the work is almost precisely the opposite of the kind of book I wish to publish.

If I were looking for 500,000+-word novels, I would not have specified an upper limit of 60,000. If I were interested in publishing works of unadorned realism (as you claim yours to be), I would not have said, twice, I wished to read solely science fiction, fantasy, and/or supernatural horror. While I did not specify an iron prohibition against fiction that celebrates pederasty, my distaste for the subject matter is really quite apparent. Likewise, the subtext fairly shouts that I have no patience for poor English and am desperately unlikely to look kindly on acres of pages Babelfished from your native tongue.

Furthermore, and this is perhaps just petty, my goddamn name is all over the guidelines page. It was simply rude to address your cover letter to Sir/Madam.

Also rude: to claim explicitly that your vision, as a straight woman, of homosexual men’s (and boys’, I suppose) lives is truer and more beautiful than a gay man’s.

Saving yourself perhaps five minutes, max, by barely glancing at the guidelines, you have wasted a good deal more than five minutes of my time and generated rather a lot of ill will. Following up with a rude (I believe it was rude: it was basically incomprehensible) and bitter reply to my diplomatic, comprehensive rejection letter—well, I take that as gravy. Salty, unpalatable gravy.

In all good conscience, I cannot wish you better luck as you seek publication elsewhere.



fiction historical fantasy short stories spec fic

surprise award nomination

A friend who attended Gaylaxicon 2011 at Outlantacon this weekend informs me that my Arabian Nights-esque short story “Firooz and His Brother” appeared on the shortlist for the 2010 Gaylactic Spectrum Awards. Which all seems rather odd to me since “Firooz” first appeared in 2008, but apparently the 2009 awards recognized only novels while 2010 bundled together two years’ worth of short fiction. Huh.

At any rate, I have not yet found a press release or anything on the Web but choose to trust my source. The irrepressible Hal Duncan won the short-fiction award, I’m told, but I don’t know which story. When I do find back up, I’ll update the entry for “Firooz and His Brother” on the stories page with a link.

Meantime, should you wish to read my story, which appeared originally in the May 2008 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, it’s readily available in two best-of-the-year anthologies: Wilde Stories 2009, edited by Steve Berman (Lethe Press, 2009), and The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2009, edited by Rich Horton (Prime Books, 2010).

The Unexpected Thing

oh happy day

Today, 8 May 2011, is the eighteenth birthday of my closest companion (bar the cats) of the last two years. Or would be if, you know, he were an actual person rather than an imagined construct, a character in a novel nobody but myself has yet read all the way through. As of today, Nathaniel Walker is enfranchised; some time in the next thirty days, when the post office is open, he’ll have to fill out one of those little cards to register with Selective Service; later this month he’ll be graduated from high school. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts where he resides, if it were a weekday, he could go to town hall for a marriage license without his parents’ consent…if his fiancé weren’t still seventeen for a few more months.

Actually, I’m not entirely certain of the legalities. Rustam Shirazi was legally emancipated in the fall of 2009: in the law’s eyes, he has no parents. Nevertheless, I expect they’d wait at least until Rusty turns eighteen on 2 August.

This year, in the United States and a number of other countries, today is also Mother’s Day. That Nate’s birthday would coincide, any year it fell on a Sunday, with that holiday was not intentional: I merely needed a Friday in early May of 2009. It irritated him when he noticed it—not especially gracious about sharing the spotlight. When I noticed it, I deliberately gave his boyfriend my own mother’s birthday. I’m not at all certain Lee Jeffers would appreciate the sentiment. She thoroughly disapproved of Mother’s Day, a commercial stratagem of the greeting card, floral, and candy industries, saying she was a mother every day of the year and her children had better not forget it.

Eleven years after her death, I have not forgotten. Nevertheless, though I share her cynicism about the holiday, I wish all mothers and their children who do like to celebrate it a happy Mother’s Day.


Lee Jeffers, 1926 - 1999 (portrait by Sam Manning ca mid-1950s, ineptly photographed by AJ)

Now I need to get back to that short story I started the other day.

fiction novella Rahab SF spec fic The New People

pub date approacheth

Over at the M-Brane SF blog, Chris Fletcher has announced a firm publication date for the M-Brane SF Double: 31 May 2011. To entice you into being among the early readers of this startling little book, Chris offers a massive trove of free electronic-form M-Brane bling to the first hundred pre-orderers, including a lifetime subscription to the flagship monthly ’zine M-Brane SF itself. What are you waiting for? It’s only $14.95!


While you’re there, be sure to read Chris’s prefaces to Brandon Bell’s Elegant Threat and my The New People—but hit that PayPal button first.

To send you on your way: A live performance of the song that inspired and titled my novella, Ivri Lider’s “Ha’anashim Ha’chadashim,” in an odd, countrified arrangement.


Ivri Lider music The New People

sunday musical interlude

Ravishing new English-language song from ravishing Israeli singer Ivri Lider, whose discography has had a profound effect on my work and life for the last several years. “Back Home,” from the soundtrack to Tomer Heymann’s film The Queen Has No Crown, was posted on YouTube just today.

Somewhat older, a teaser for Ivri’s eagerly anticipated English-language album Fly/Forget, the heartbreaking single “Mike.” Release it already, Ivri!

Older still and in Hebrew, a fan-made video for one of my favorite tracks from the brilliant 2008 album Beketzev A’hid Batnu’ot Shel Haguf (The Steady Rhythm of Body Movements)—“Tzel Shahor” (“Dark Shadow”).

If you haven’t seen/played/listened to them yet, two further Ivri songs are embedded on the page dedicated to the science-fiction novella that would not exist without his work: the title track to 2001’s Ha’anashim Ha’chadashim (The New People), and the first single, “Rak Tevakesh” (“Just Ask”) from Beketzev A’hid Batnu’ot Shel Haguf.

fiction spec fic The Unexpected Thing work in progress YA

the unexpected draft

Today ought to be one for celebration, except I feel as though I’ve been run over by a truck. Massive, massive headache, nausea, compromised balance. Bleargh. Also I’m too broke to buy Champagne. Maybe when the income-tax refund appears in my bank account.

Around 7:30 (EDT) this morning I wrote the last line of the first draft of The Unexpected Thing. Though tempted, I did not append Fin: it’s not a work suited to that variety of preciosity.

It is, not unexpectedly, enormous. 144,000 words. Set up in fairly standard MS format (12-point type, double spaced, one-inch margins all around) in the typeface I prefer to work with (clean, artful, eccentric but highly legible on screen, and doesn’t make my eyes bleed): 423 pages, exluding title page, divided into sixty-two numbered chapters, themselves parceled out—somewhat unevenly—among thirteen titled parts.

But few computers will have Bouwsma Text installed, so when I start sending The Unexpected Thing around to beta readers I’ll have to reset the MS in old standby Times New Roman (a face I find far less readable than everybody likes to claim, and ugly besides, but which has the advantage of closely approximating, in standard MS format, the page count of a typeset book). In 12-point TNR: 477 pages.

But book editors, nostalgic for the days of typewritten MSs on paper, are said to prefer 12-point monospaced Courier (which does make my eyes bleed): an eyebrow-raising 643 pages.

There will be cuts! A lot of them. Ideally, from a marketing standpoint, I’d get the thing down to 100,000 words or shorter. I have some doubts about that—we’ll see what early readers say. The first order of business, however, is to find loose ends and either pull them out completely or stitch them up properly; reconcile inconsistencies; split up at least two chapters that got rather out of hand into more manageable pieces. Symbolic target date for a second draft fit to be shared: 8 May 2011, the narrator’s eighteenth birthday.

Would you like to be among the few, the proud, the beta readers? Drop me a line or leave a comment, and accept my thanks in advance.

But what’s it about, AX, you ask, what’s it about?

If I could tell you in five hundred words I wouldn’t have bothered with the other 143,500. Ha. Ha.

In all sobriety, the arts of the synopsis and the elevator pitch I have never mastered. Beta readers will be begged, please, to help.

The Unexpected Thing is about:

  • two lovely young men who fall in love;
  • their friends and families;
  • the entirely imaginary fifth-smallest sovereign European nation, an island in the Adriatic off the coasts of Montenegro and Albania;
  • the uneasy transition from rule by a divinely appointed aristocratic caste to some form of parliamentary democracy;
  • incursions by gods and other powers into the twenty-first and earlier centuries;
  • discovering yourself to be, unsuspected, a wizard with vast capabilities;
  • being beaten half to death by, first, a god and, second, your own dad and big brother;
  • friendship and enmity and reconciliation, discovery and loss, people and dogs, life and death and, yes, love;
  • Nate and Rusty’s summer vacation.

In other words, just about everything that matters. Except cats! I left out the cats! Jane and Charlotte are incensed* but me, I’m really pretty pleased with it.

* “That dog died almost a decade ago,” they grumble. “It was tragic at the time but get over it.”

Table of Contents

I Turn Sixteen

I Finish out the School Year, Maybe Fall in Love

My Boyfriend and I Have a Day for Ourselves

My Uncles and I Leave the Country, Reach the Island

I Have Impressions of the Town, Make Friends, Maybe an Enemy

I Am Not Myself

We Learn of Deaths in Far Places

We Retreat to the Sunset Villa

Terrible Events in the Commonwealth

I Am, We Are Addressed by Gods

Terrible Events in the Serene Principality

I Am Rescued, Comforted

We Are Happy Boys, All Things Considered

fiction short stories spec fic work in progress

stocktaking, early spring


Winter 2010-2011 was not enormously successful in terms of getting things done. Well, I made a lot of books for other people and one for myself. But not a great deal of consummated writing. Stories I worked on, ought to have finished, but did not:

“Liam and the Changelings”—the fourth Liam story, following “Liam and the Wild Fairy” (published in Icarus #5, Summer 2010); “…and the Ordinary Boy”; “…and His Dads.” There should be seven of them eventually, with “Changelings” to be followed by “…and the Coward,” “…and the Pornographer,” and “Liam Discovers Fairyland.” 200 words of the most recent attempt to figure out what the story means to do.

“The Discovery of Vinhático”—a tale of an American tourist visiting an isolated island in the Atlantic (based on Madeira) and his encounter with its fourteenth-century Scots discoverer. I’ve been trying to get this one to work since September 2009. 5,000 words in the current, seventh attempt.

“A Prince of Antrazza”—novelette or novella of planetary romance in the mode of ER Burroughs’s Barsoom stories. Intended for a market that may not in fact exist. Must check. 5,000 words.

“Handless. Heartless.”—longish urban fantasy of an apprentice wizard, his witch mother, and a lost boy. Loosely based on several variants of the fairy tale “The Girl without Hands” and riffing on motifs from John Masefield’s The Midnight Folk and The Box of Delights. 8,400 words.

“Seb and Duncan and the Sirens”—what it says on the tin: a story about Homer’s sirens on a contemporary Greek island, involving an American nerd college student and his jock best friend. Meant for a forthcoming anthology of fantasy stories about uncanny inhabitants of the sea … except, of course, classical sirens weren’t aquatic. So that’s one problem, of several. 6,000 words.

“The Lagoon of DEATH” (working title, obvs)—a different stab at a sea story for the above anthology. Polynesian (not really) rite-of-passage story: a youth deliberately stranded on a desert island discovers something in the lagoon. Barely commenced: 700 words.

“Stealth vs The Anger”—response to an invitation to submit to a forthcoming anthology of stories about queer costumed supervillains. Sadly or otherwise, this will probably continue to go nowhere. I was never a superhero/comic-book nerd and suspect it’s too late to become fatally interested in the genre. Stalled at pretty much the same 600 words since this time last year.

“Davio under the Hill”—meant to be a highly erotic, highly stylized story of a spear carrier from the Orlando furioso who wanders into Aubrey Beardsley’s take on the legend of Venus and Tannhäuser. I had a market in mind for this one, too, but the deadline swift approaches and I expect the story would too literary for the audience anyway. Only way to make it more obscure would be to write it in ottava rima. Which I might just do! 500 words.

“The Box of Delights”—meant to be my first stab at steampunk, a genre I fail to understand. Possibly why it refuses to go anywhere? 250 words.

“Black Dog of the East”—another attempt to jump on a popular bandwagon: an urban fantasy about a werebeast. The anthology I planned to submit it to closed in November, I think. Oh well. 200 words.

Story completed, submitted, sold:

“Captain of the World”—forthcoming in Speaking Out, edited by Steve Berman (Bold Strokes Books/Soliloquy, Fall 2011). Contemporary non-fantastical story of a gay Turkish-American soccer goalkeeper. So that was satisfying. Except a few days after selling the 7,000-word story I got this notion of expanding it into a 60,000-word YA novel. And that’s not going so well.

Completed stories out on submission:

“Then We Went There”—5,500 words. Starts out as a high-school-bullying story, turns into something stranger. I love this story (partly because it was the first thing I finished after The New People and the first completed short story in ten years), but sympathetic early readers have been baffled and editorial response—when not boilerplate sorry can’t use it—has crucially misunderstood what I was trying to do: those aren’t bugs, they’re features. Or I’m deluded. Can eleven markets (so far) be wrong? Yes. Yes, dammit, they can.

“Tattooed Love Boys”—10,000 words. Fantastical adventures of two young American siblings in the contemporary hinterland of Charlotte Brontë’s Labassecour. I’m not the only one who loves this one: early reader Steve Berman wants to have written it himself. Unfortunately, the markets that seemed appropriate have been cursed (two of them died, though one was resurrected) and/or VERY SLOW. The third has had it for going on six months and I don’t realistically expect a decision anytime soon. Augh.

“Like Spinning Stars, Like Flowers”—7,000 words. A finalist, but not winner or runner up, in the 2011 Saints and Sinners Literary Festival Short Fiction Contest. It remains unclear whether my story will be included in the May 2011 anthology from the Queer Mojo imprint of Rebel Satori Press. The festival’s dogged failure to communicate frustrates me a good deal. All my info comes from press releases.

“Liam and the Ordinary Boy” and “Liam and His Dads”—4,500 and 6,000 words, respectively. Not a lot of hope for these, frankly. Instalments in an on-going series, don’t really stand up individually. Lethe Press wants to follow up The Abode of Bliss with a collection of fantastical stories, in 2012 maybe; my intention is to include the entire Liam saga. If I ever finish it.

“The Conjuror of Irem”—7,000 words. Bronze-age Crete. Cthulhu Mythos. S&M. Not a horror story and the Lovecraftian motifs possibly too subtly deployed. I’m always making things difficult for myself. Seventh rejection should arrive any day now. Bar “Captain of the World,” the last thing I finished: in August.

Overall (sing it together): Disappointing. But … but … BUT:

An unexpected thing about The Unexpected Thing, my enormous work in progress, turned out to be that I was incapable of working on it during autumn and winter. It happened in 2009, four months after I started: stalled out sometime in October. And again in 2010: nothing after September. It’s a summer-vacation story, maybe that’s why. I am morbidly affected by climate.

Although the first two weeks of spring in Rhode Island have not been especially springlike—wretchedly chilly with intervals of rain, sleet, and snow (snowing right now!)—it appears just crossing the vernal equinox may have been sufficient to convince my hindbrain. Three chapters drafted in seven days. Seven to go, if I manage to stick to the plan. A reread of the first fifty chapters made me cry four times. No, not from disgust or despair.

Then the miserable prospect of hacking out 30,000 or more words to get it down to reasonable size, running it past early readers, and the still more miserable prospect of putting together a pitch package and, you know, finding a publisher.

The writer’s life, it is blissful.