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Hello, all. I didn't mean to go so long without writing, but it's been a busy week, both at the day job (where we're trying to finish up the February year-in-review issue), and at home, where I've finally finished typing in the many thousands of words of handwritten scenes into the word-processor version of the Frog novel. Today I'm going to read it all in a lump, correct whatever gross incompetencies I notice, and then send it off to a few kindhearted first readers, who, after reading about it here for a year or so, may find the actual book itself something of a letdown...

Then, tomorrow, I have to catch up on Star*Line stuff, which has been neglected lately. I probably have enough poems in inventory to finish one issue, and I suspect there are enough good poems in my months of accumulated unanswered submissions to fill another, and then I'll be done! So if you want to get a poem into a Tim Pratt-edited issue of Star*Line, you'd probably best send it before Sunday, is all I'm saying. Submissions I receive after that will be held and forwarded on to the new editor when she takes over.

So, writing news. There is no other writing news, really. Oh, except that it looks like I'm going to be doing some freelance critical writing. (I say "seems like" because contracts are presumably on the way, but I haven't signed anything yet, and things do sometimes fall apart.) My first assignment is a career-overview of the works of Dean Koontz. I read his stuff in high school, and read most of his, um, let's call it middle-period output, which included a lot of re-releases of books he wrote much earlier under pseudonyms. In college, out of curiosity, I picked up a couple of his early non-horror/thriller books, which included a nicely plotted horse-racing track heist novel that suffered a bit from clumsy characterization, but was still a fun read. I've read a couple of his early science-fiction novels, too. I haven't read anything new of his in several years, though, so I picked up a few of his more recent novels on a used-bookstore foray last weekend, just to make sure there hadn't been any drastic departures, and, no, there haven't been -- still reasonably well-written horror/thrillers, sometimes with science fiction elements, still circling the same broad themes and often even the same motifs. It'll be a long essay, because he's had a long and varied career -- but long is good, since I'm getting paid by the word. It pays pretty well, too, and if they like my work, they'll give me more. I might be doing a career-overview of Terry Pratchett's work, too, which should be easy, since I've read most of his output already.

I know I said I wasn't going to take on any more non-fiction-writing work, and, yes, this is a flagrant violation of that -- but I have a good reason. It's called a wedding. Five of these essays would pay for my wedding (which will happen in 2005 sometime, though whether in the spring or fall is still up in the air). Just two of these essays would help immeasurably. And, ahem, I might have enough left over to buy myself a Playstation or an X-Box or something fun like that. The work shouldn't be that difficult, either. I used to do more difficult assignments in college English classes on much shorter notice.

[Insert elegant transition here] So, it's Awards Season again! (In SF/Fantasy/Horror, it's nearly always Awards Season, actually...) The preliminary Nebula ballot is out, and I'm pleased to see Greg van Eekhout, Theodora Goss, Jeffrey Ford, Ray Vukcevich, Karen Joy Fowler, and Cory Doctorow there -- those people have written some of my favorite stories in the past couple of years, and, lo, their stories are on the prelim (and in some cases final) ballot! It is a shame to see what a thin ballot it is, though, with three categories already final without further voting needed. Recommend things, ye SFWAns! And I'll take that as a nudge for myself, too. There are several things I've meant to recommend and haven't gotten around to recommending yet. I'll do that this weekend. I already marked up my choices for the final ballot. I'm wishing certain people luck.

And Hugo Nomination is open! You don't have to run over and nominate now, though if you haven't bought a membership for the Worldcon yet, you'll need to do so by January 31 in order to nominate (unless you went to Worldcon last year, of course). Supporting memberships, which give you nominating and voting rights, can be had for only $35, and believe me, one vote can make a difference. Heather and I have supporting memberships, because it's more fun to bitch about the results when you actually had a hand in them. The best-of lists are just starting to appear, and A Certain Magazine's February issue has a divers bunch of year-end essays and a big list, compiled with input from top reviewers and editors in the field (and, er, other people. Namely me). So there's still time to see what other people liked, and go read it yourself, if you're intrigued, before nominations close in March or whenever.

I will point people toward Jim van Pelt's excellent Campbell-eligible authors page, which in some cases includes links to work published online. I will also point out that I'm in my second year of eligibility for the Campbell, so it's now or never for me -- if I don't make the ballot this year, I never will. Which is fine, but it would be cool to make the ballot, and if I did, I'd do my best to attend Worldcon (which is pretty much not going to happen otherwise). I'm not going to campaign for nominations or post on newsgroups or talk myself up or anything, because such doings make me uncomfortable and I'd rather spend my time and energy actually writing, so this is the only time I'll, ah, be so direct. Though I may point people to the Campbell-eligible authors page in general, because it's a good resource for nominating/voting, even for people who have no interest in nominating/voting for me...

Last thing -- the website for The Speculative Literature Foundation, founded by that crackling field of literary energy Mary Anne Mohanraj, is up. Why should you care, you writers ask? Lots of reasons, probably, but how does a $1000 short-fiction prize strike you for starters?

More later, if my arms don't fall off from all the typing and such I have to do this weekend.



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