Two Ideas

Revisiting an old idea

Way back when, my mission was to post actual new ideas to this blog.

One of those ideas, back in November of 2007, was a slow cooker with a PID controller for temperature.

I just wanted to point out that the wide range of home sous vide cookers that emerged last year and looks to be accelerating this year is the natural evolution of my idea.

I haven't made the leap yet, but I'm thinking very seriously about it.

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Penumbra eMag: A Luncheon Date with Jon Lasser

In the run-up to my story, "The Saviors," appearing in Penumbra's May Issue, I appear in their blog today.

In the post, I answer the question, what famous author would I most like to share lunch with?

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Upcoming Publication: Penumbra’s May issue

Cover of the Penumbra May 2014 issue

As you can see from the picture, a story of mine is being published in the May 2014 issue of Penumbra, their superhero issue.

It's a very small story, but I'm proud of it, and it's my first paid fiction publication. It's hard to explain how excited I am to have finally "broken in" to the SFF market. I hope everyone's going to read it!

(Also, who's going to be at Norwescon 37 next weekend? I hope to see you there!)

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My Writing Year 2013

I'm stealing the title and idea for this post from my friend Sarah Pinsker, who had an incredible writing year in 2013. I hope this was just one point on a long upward trajectory for her.

My year wasn't as strong as hers. But looking at the numbers, it wasn't the disaster I imagined. Most of my writing occurs on the bus, in the mornings, four days a week. Sometimes I write in the afternoons or on weekends, but I tend to save weekends for edits and rewrites, which often require me to spread out more than I can on the bus.

Although I kept submitting some of my non-genre fiction in the first part of the year, I moved decisively to write what I want to read: speculative fiction of all kinds. Of the five full-length stories I wrote start-to-finish this year, 2 were near-future SF, one was farther-future hard SF, one was contemporary fantasy, and one was a second-world fantasy. Two of the three flash fiction pieces were superhero stories of a sort; the third, dark fantasy. Of stories I'm still working on, two are near-future SF and one is far-future space opera set in the same world as my maybe-a-novel-in-progress.

Unfortunately, none of the eight complete pieces I've got has sold yet. In part, this may be because I've continued to tweak the pieces and I'm never entirely happy with anything. In part, it might have to do with the wide range of what I'm working on, and trying to find my voice. And in large part, it comes from lacking the confidence to submit repeatedly and without compunction.

I'm doing better at getting a pipeline going, with different works in different stages of production. My 2014 goal is the same as my 2013 goal was: to break into genre writing. But with my second child due at the end of June, at least the third quarter's likely to be a bust.

By the numbers:

  • Submissions outstanding: 4 (1 spec-fic)
  • Total submissions 2013: 55
  • Acceptances: 3 (1 from 2012 submission)
  • Publications: Fourteen Hills, Spartan, Matchbook
  • genre magazines: 0
  • Pro-rates: 0
  • print magazines: 1
  • e-zines: 2

1 acceptance on 13th submission of the story; 2 on 1st submission

Stories completed in 2013:

  • 5 full-length (avg 4200 words)
  • 3 flash (average 767 words)

Works in progress:

  • 3 promising shorts (10,000 words)
  • 1 flash (300 words)
  • 1 long story (potential novel) (37,000 words)

False starts / snippets: 6+

Also, one reading at Hugo House.

Which means, excluding snippets, false starts, and numerous words cut in rewrites and edits, I've managed to write 70,000+ words this year. The bad news is that the novel wants to be three or four different books, so unless a miracle happens many or all of those words are headed out. I hope to focus more on short stories next year, unless the novel grabs me again. If not, I'll chalk it up as background for the several other stories I've got set in the same universe—one done, one nearly done, and one barely started.

I also did a better job plugging myself into the local SF community this year. I attended Norwescon and Cascade Writers, took a class at Hugo House with Nancy Kress, and attended the initial Seattle Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers (SF2W) meeting/party put together by Django Wexler. Heck, I attended lunch today at Crossroads Mall with Ken Scholes, where I ran into John Pitts, who led my critique group at Cascade.

I'm still running into challenges figuring out how to balance writing and community with my nontrivial familial and professional obligations—a problem that gets worse next year, for all the fun and personal satisfaction I'm looking forward to, but somehow I'll find a way. I hope. (If not, I've got a new top goal for 2015.)

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Another story published!

My short story, "The Angel of Hunger," has just been

The Cover of Fourteen Hills 19.2

Fourteen Hills 19.2

published by Fourteen Hills, which is SFSU's literary magazine.

The story is in Issue 19.2, which you can buy at that link.

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New Fiction Published: Missed Approach

The lovely folks at Spartan have seen fit to publish a piece of flash fiction I wrote, Missed Approach. Go read it!

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Make it easy to identify e-mail requiring responses when sending

I send a lot of e-mail where I expect an answer back. But tracking who I'm expecting to hear back from, and about what, is a manual process.

Why doesn't e-mail have a "send and flag for follow-up" button?

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New Publication, online at matchbook

A very, very short story of mine, The Affair, was published today on matchbook.

I hope to have one or two more publications to announce by or around the end of the month. Keep your fingers crossed!

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Random Technical Links

Friday was a good day for getting help from Google.

I broke the SASAG Web site. The main site worked, but I had a 500 error on the admin interface, with the HTTP error logs reporting Fatal error: Call to undefined function get_home_path() in wordpress/wp-admin/includes/misc.php on line 128.

I found other reports of the problem, which turns out to have been because I had upgraded WordPress before upgrading the backupwordpress plugin to 2.1.1.

In order to fix the problem, I needed to connect to the Web server with SSH. But I needed to use the Socks5 proxy we use at work to access the outside world. I'd never run SSH via a SOCKS5 proxy before, but it turns out to be very easy: I just added -o 'ProxyCommand /usr/bin/nc -x localhost:1080 %h %p' to use the proxy forward I had running on port 1080.

Once connected via SSH, I solved the problem by moving the old plugin version out of the way and installing the new version. (This did preserve my settings, fortunately.)

Later, at home, I wanted Microsoft Word for Mac 2011 to report its word count rounded to the nearest 100 words. A little bit of searching revealed a helpful answer for that too.

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I need nicknames for my Amazon payment methods

Why do I need to know the last four digits of each of my cards in order to know if it's my personal or the joint checking account, if it's my personal AmEx or the corporate AmEx? Just a nickname per card would be terribly useful to me.

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Early Thanksgiving

I'm thankful to live in a country where, when my 11 month old son is vomiting, I can walk to the drugstore and buy water with electrolytes and sugar tailored for his condition. (And I'm thankful to be able to afford it.)

I'm thankful to live in a time when, when my 11 month old son has a 104 degree fever, I can give him acetaminophen and his fever will decline. (And I'm thankful to be able to afford it.)

I'm thankful to be able to call a nurse after hours, and get guidelines on what changes in my son's condition indicate that we should seek immediate medical attention. (And I'm thankful that, had we needed to go, we have health care coverage.)

Yup, I'm a lucky guy. And my son's a lucky guy, even if he isn't feeling so great right now.

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