Archive for December, 2008

Random Bits on New Year’s Eve

Posted in Fantasic Saloon!, Life, Miscellany, The Hundred Year-Old Book Club, YA Books on December 31, 2008 by Matt

As winter break comes to a close, I’m spending these last few days spending time with family, lesson planning for next semester’s classes, and writing.  The new book is going well, though it’s no longer called the 100 Year-Old Bookclub, in fact there isn’t  book club to be found (though the hundred years still has some significance).  The working title is currently, The Last Explorer.  Not nearly as cool, but there it is.

One of the things we have been doing over this break is a cleaning of the bookshelves for our (mostly)annual book donation to Housing Works.  This serves a dual purpose of going to a very good cause as well as keeping our smallish New York apartment from being overtaken by books.  Keeping the corners free of stacks and stacks of books has become extra-important now that Will is getting ready to walk.

So which books do you keep?  Which do you give away?  At times like this I always try to impose some kind of rule, such as “If it’s been on my shelf for more than two years unread then it goes.”  or “All previously read paperbacks must go”.  I know, nice try.  What about that well-worn Henning Mankell  collection that a friend gave me several years ago?  I haven’t worked my way through all of them yet, and they look so nice together on the shelf . . .  and what about the battered paperback of A Game of Thrones?  I’ve read it twice and some day might go back for a third.  I might.

So in the end there is no rhyme or reason.  But today I will be braving the cold and the snow to deliver bags of books downtown, some of which are bound to be well-loved, earmarked and creased, others will be like-new.  You decide which are the better finds.

Since I already did the 2008 reflective post, so here are some random links of interest to me, some of which are long overdue:

Christopher Barzak has some interesting thoughts about the book recession and its effect (or lack thereof) on the YA market.  I think he’s on to something with the price issue.

Forget Jurassic Park, a scientist has discovered a 140 million year-old spider web encased in amber.  How creepy would that movie have been?

An old friend of mine recently brought the blog/review site Guy’s Lit Wire to my attention and I’m really enjoying it.  (The fact that her husband is a contributor did not sway me a bit.  Not a bit.)

This post by fellow Fantastic Salooner Justin Howe made me spit coffee through my nose.  Christmas in Tokyo and Atrocity Meat.

Have a Happy New Year’s Everyone!

babynewyear_rudolph

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Clarion ’09 is Open for Business

Posted in Clarion, Plugs, Speculative Fiction, Uncategorized, Writing on December 29, 2008 by Matt
Clarion Writers' Workshop

Clarion Writers' Workshop

I recently got an email reminding me that the Clarion Writers Workshop is accepting applications for it’s 2009 session.  I, myself, am a proud graduate and would recommend it to anyone looking for a shot of writing adreniline.  It’s six weeks of intensive, immersive writing geekery and it’s also a lot of fun.  The teaching is excellent, the staff great, the campus beautiful and the San Diego beaches are gorgeous.

When I was there way back in aught ’07, I got up at the crack of dawn and went for a jog in the neighboring eucalyptus forest, then attended workshop for a few hours and spent the rest of the day writing, or talking about writing before taking a little hike down to the cliffs to watch the sun set over the Pacific.  If it was the weekend, some of us would head for the beach to swim with the seals. Oh, and there were squirt-gun fights.  Sound like a good way to send the summer?  Then check out the info below:

Announcing the

2009 Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop

@ UC San Diego

June 28 to August 8, 2009

The Clarion Workshop is widely recognized as the premier training ground for aspiring writers of fantasy and science fiction short stories. Many graduates have become well-known writers, and a large number have won major awards. Instructors are among the most respected writers and editors working in the field today. The 2009 writers in residence are Holly Black, Larissa Lai, Robert Crais, Kim Stanley Robinson, Elizabeth Hand, and Paul Park. The six-week workshop is held on the beautiful beachside campus of the University of California at San Diego.

Since its inception in 1968, Clarion has been known as the “boot camp” for writers of speculative fiction. Each year 18-20 students, ranging in age from late teens to those in mid-career, are selected from applicants who have the potential for highly successful writing careers. Students are expected to write several new short stories during the six-week workshop, and to give and receive constructive criticism. Instructors and students reside together in campus apartments throughout the intensive six-week program.

The application period for the 2009 workshop is January 2 – March 1. Applicants must submit two short stories with their application. Scholarships are available. Additional information can be found at http://clarion.ucsd.edu.

Happy Wren’s Day

Posted in Life, Miscellany, Uncategorized on December 26, 2008 by Matt

wren-boys

Here in the States, another Christmas has come and gone.  But there are still places in the world where the Twelve Days of Christmas are still going strong.  In certain, more celebritory, parts of the world this time of year is a series of festivals and feasts (unless you happen to be the unfortunate family in a Susan Cooper novel, then the Twelve Days are a long battle against The Rising Dark).

So to those of you who can’t do it cold turkey, who need a little soft come-down from the holiday crack, I say Happy Wren’s Day!  (Or happy St. Stephen’s day, if you prefer a less pagan observance).

In Irish traditions past, Dec. 26 would see a great hunt for the King of All Birds, the treacherous Wren.  Having been chased down by groups of rampaging boys (or simply dying from exhaustion) the wren would then be dangled from a stout staff and used to beg for treats as the Wren Boys, dressed in wren masks and face paint, caroled from door to door.

Today, the wren is hung in effigy and the King Bird allowed to sit upon his throne unmolested ( for the most part).  The wily Wren Boys still sing a variation of this rhyme:

The wren, the wren, the king of all birds,
St. Stephen’s Day was caught in the furze,
Although he was little his honour was great,
Jump up me lads and give us a treat.
As I was going to Killenaule,
I met a wren upon the wall.
Up with me wattle and knocked him down,
And brought him in to Carrick Town.
Droolin, Droolin, where’s your nest?
Tis in the bush that I love best
In the tree, the holly tree,
Where all the boys do follow me.
Up with the kettle and down with the pan,
And give us a penny to bury the wren.
I followed the wren three miles or more,
Three miles or more three miles or more.
I followed the wren three miles or more,
At six o’clock in the morning.
I have a little box under me arm,
Under me arm under me arm.
I have a little box under me arm,
A penny or tuppence would do it no harm.

So if the Wren Boys visit your home tonight, please spare a penny or two, or a cake or other sugary treat.  Here in the Cody-home, we’ll probably be watching HGTV.

Recent Reads -The Fiction Edition

Posted in Clarion, Uncategorized on December 23, 2008 by Matt

Here are a few more.  It’s a small list this time.  Most of my time was spent reading student’s papers.  As usual, these are in no kind of order.

Mouse Guard: Fall 1152, words and art by David Peterson

Gentlemen of the Road, by Michael Chabon

The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane, by Robert E. Howard

The Black Petals, by Michael Moorcock

Summerland, by Michael Chabon

Posted in babies, Life on December 20, 2008 by Matt

Will is turning one tomorrow, which means that I’ll have to change my categories from “Babies” to “Toddlers”.  This is absolutely breaking his poor mother’s heart.  She is wandering around the apartment wondering where her little handful of a baby went (actually he was never a handful, he was nicknamed the Champion by the hospital nurses).

Me, I’m all reflective and nostalgic.  The end of the year has come early for me – its a milestone.  This has me thinking a lot about 2008 and trying to figure out what it a was all about.  2007 was easy to figure – it was a big year.  In 2007 my wife got pregnant, I signed my first book contract, went to Clarion, had a crazy health scare that had a happy ending and, of course, Will was born.  Big freaking year.

2008, on a personal level, was much less momentous but just as important.  Powerless is done and ready to go but we are still 10 months away from publication.  At home its been all about raising Will to be a happy, healthy one-year old who gets all twitchy when he sees daddy’s original Millenium Falcon (proud of that, thank you very much).  2008 was not my most productive year as a writer, but in some ways I attribute that to all the really interesing stuff that was going on around me.  With the historic election, the financial meltdown, Phelps the Dolphin-Man and the cries of “apocalypse!” in publishing world, there was just too much distracting real-world stuff to look at.  In many ways 2008 has been about nesting in against the turmoil of the world outside and enjoying the stability of family (albiet a sleep-deprived stability).

In 2009, my first book will finally come out and I’ll finish writing my second.  Will’s going to be walking and talking.  I cannot wait to hear what he has to say.