May 2009


Then a miracle occurs …

There’s a famous cartoon where two scientists confer over an elaborate equation, the middle step of which reads ‘then a miracle occurs …’.

That’s been the plot outline of our first novel — a complex escalation followed by a gaping hole where the climactic scene should be, indicated by ‘some powerfully big magic happens here’.

But it couldn’t be just any powerfully big magic, and finding something that would fit in that very precisely-shaped hole had been stumping us for weeks. Yesterday I think we finally carved out an answer.

I’m not quite ready to trust it — I’m still half-afraid one of us will realize some terrible overlooked flaw that sends us back to the drawing board. If this does work, though, then we have all the major story elements of book one in place, and the rest is just details.

Lots and lots of details.


On the subject of furniture

Dear Jak,

You know that desk you moved out of Claire’s room last weekend and left in the hallway, where it still remains despite my earlier strong suggestion that you remove it to the living room?

It is a dark-colored desk in a dark hall, directly outside the office door. During this particular period of early-morning insomnia I have so far unwittingly attempted to occupy the same physical space as the desk a total of three times. I expect fully one third of the surface area of my lower body will soon be sporting a variety of interesting colors ranging from yellow to purple. The blood loss has so far been manageable, but I note forlornly the loss of several smaller toenails.

Granted, I am a hopeless clutz and also egregiously slow to learn from experience. Nevertheless, I would like to point out that my continued ability to walk is in your own best interest — I know you’d hate to be stuck with all the grocery shopping — and plead once again that you remove this obstacle before I become permanently impaired.

All my love,


Fantasy novel marathon

Jak brought five more fantasy novels home from the library today, as part of our ‘survey every reasonably successful fantasy book/series from the last decade’ project.

From this you may correctly gather that I’ve not been doing so previously. It’s an odd reversal for me, as I was insatiable for fiction as a child and young adult. I was the kid who’d bring a book to gym class. In my twenties I’d regularly devour three or four books a week.

In recent years, however, my patience for less-than-perfect fiction writing has steadily diminished and now approaches zero. My standards are just too high, hardly anything can touch them. (Like I said: crotchety and hard to please.)

Despite what I thought were appropriately low expectations, I have been disappointed by most of what I’ve seen so far. In a few cases I was actually appalled.

I considered posting short reviews here, but on reflection decided that would do far more harm than good. Some of these authors are people I know (and even like); it’s probable that I will cross paths with many others if Jak and I stay on this road. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, and I am awkward enough making small talk with strangers at conventions without worrying about whether they secretly hate me for publicly scorning their magnum opus.

So I may grouse about the quality of published fantasy in general, but I will only mention something by name if I can bring myself to recommend it without adding caveats and qualifications.

Thus far that list has a single entry: Naomi Novik’s His Majesty’s Dragon is … well, ‘charming’ is the word that comes to mind. It’s too different from the type of thing we’re trying to write to be any sort of useful model, but it’s the one thing I’ve read this month that I’ve been able to actually enjoy.

And the marathon continues …